HARLEY Bennell has broken his silence, saying he feared being sacked after pictures were splashed across national newspapers of him in a hotel room with illicit drugs in 2013.
Speaking with AFL.com.au, the Gold Coast star opened up about the difficulties of the season and how he was desperate to see out the final two years of his contract with the Suns.
Bennell admitted his career was at the crossroads and understood if Gold Coast wanted to trade him.
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He said he took full responsibility for his actions and that the hardest phone call he made was to his mother before the photos were released.
"I'm the second oldest son of hers. She still says I'm her baby, but for a mother to see her son on the front of the Herald Sun doing lines isn't what you want," Bennell said.
"It's been a tough three or four weeks, not just for myself but for the football club and my family.
"I'm disappointed in myself.
"It was just a one-off thing. It's a decision - I was under the influence of alcohol - that I made (and) that I really regret."
Bennell flatly denied there was a drinking and drugs culture at the Suns and defended "older brother" Karmichael Hunt as a man who shaped him positively.
"Karmichael will always be my older brother," he said.
"He taught me about my diet and professionalism and recovery. He'll always be there for me and I'll be the same for him.
"I just made some decisions, and I put my hand up and I'll take responsibility for those decisions."
Bennell will play against Adelaide on Saturday, his first game since the storm erupted earlier this month.
"There was the thought of getting sacked," he said.
"I had to ring (football manager) Marcus (Ashcroft) to see if I still had a contract and he said 'yes'.
"I still have two years left on my contract. I don't want to leave the football club. I love this football club and I want to stay here."
It wasn't the first misdemeanour for the West Australian in 2015 after he was suspended for failing the club's alcohol policy following the round five win over the Brisbane Lions.
He said it had been a disappointing year with some "stupid decisions" and understood if the Suns wanted to trade him.
"I fully understand that, but I hope that doesn't happen," he said.
"I've just got to work hard from here on in, clean up some of the decisions I make away from the football club and work hard on the track.
"It's being a professional away from the footy club, not just at the footy club.
"I've got to know that I'm a 24-hour professional Gold Coast Suns player.
"My career is at the crossroads. I don't want this to ever happen again."