He said: "This time last year it was still in the balance whether I'd play again, so to be going back as Newcastle captain is something I'd dared not dream about.
"It would have been easier to stay there as I had two-and-a-half years left on my contract and I was getting good money. But this career doesn't last forever. I don't know how much satisfaction I would have got from that.
"The challenge of playing week in, week out and testing yourself is what this life's all about.
"When I broke my leg I thought to myself that, if I ever did get back fit, I wanted to be playing regularly. I missed 13 months and when you're not playing you realise what you're missing. As soon as I did it, deep down, I knew I needed to be playing."