IN all the fuss over Andy Murray’s dreadful injury news last week, one action by the greatest Scottish sportsman of all time really stood out.

On his Instagram account he posted a picture of himself as a little boy at Dunblane Primary School and the remarks that accompanied it were heartbreakingly poignant, showing the real passion he has for his sport.

“I choose this pic as the little kid inside me just wants to play tennis and compete. I genuinely miss it so much and I would give anything to be back out there. I didn’t realise until these last few months just how much I love this game.

“Every time I wake up from sleeping or napping I hope that it’s better and it’s quite demoralising when you get on the court it’s not at the level you need it to be to compete at this level.”

Those were not the words of someone looking to bounce back any time soon. Those were the words of a top sportsperson looking at the very real prospect of never playing at the highest level, or any level, ever again.

Thankfully, Monday’s more positive news about his operation gives all of his fans – of which I am one – hope that be he will be back on court soon, but even after surgery that appears to have gone well, Andy Murray has been shown the limited nature of his playing career in all too stark terms.

I do not know the extent or nature of the hip injury that Murray admitted he has been carrying for so long, and even though he has played through the pain barrier so many times, there just comes a moment when the body tells you ‘enough is enough’ and you either have to seek surgical help, as he had done, and yes, maybe even give up playing to protect your long-term health.

It is a horrible decision that every person who plays a sport has to take at some time or another, usually but not always in their thirties, and no matter what level you play at, it is always painful and life-changing.

One minute, or so it seems, you are a healthy specimen perhaps at the top of your personal game or knowing that you are on the slide but still enjoying the sport, and the next it’s finished and the clubs, rackets, clothing and boots get put aside or sent to the charity shops – in my case, the faithful rugby boots were ceremonially burned.

In no way am I comparing myself to Andy Murray, but I was at the same age as him as he is now, 30 going on 31, when I had to give up playing rugby.

I had little choice. The consultant surgeon who had operated for the second time on my right knee came to my hospital bed with a test tube full of milky fluid with lots of white bits floating in it. “That’s what was left of your cartilage,” he said. “If you want to be in a wheelchair in your 40s, keep playing rugby.” One replacement knee joint later, I am grateful for his candour.

My decision back then was instant. I had already taken plenty advice from physiotherapists, all of whom shook their head mournfully when I told them the diagnosis prior to the op. I had a young family, a full-time-plus job, and anyway, I had always wanted to write about rugby and had the opportunity to do so – and in those days under the crazy rules on amateurism, you couldn’t take money for reporting on rugby and still keep playing at any level.

So the might of Lismore 3rd XV had to do without me and though I did play a few games for the club’s social team, the wonderful Lismore Lepers, I never played a serious game for my club again.

I really miss playing rugby even now, 27 years on. I have always believed that if you are sportingly active in your teens and 20s, you lay down a fit core that should last you for the rest of your life, but there is simply no substitute for playing football, rugby or whatever. Coaching, managing, administrating or writing about rugby – and I have been privileged to do so ever since I stopped playing – just doesn’t come close to the sheer enjoyment of taking part.

That’s why this broken down old prop would like to say just one thing to Sir Andrew Barron Murray, as well as conveying my sincere and very great admiration.

I know that you are deeply devoted to your wife and children, Andy. On the one occasion I met you with Kim in Edinburgh Airport all those years ago, it was clear to me, in the words of a wise relative, that you were ‘fur yin anither’, and so it has proved.

I have watched from afar as you have scaled the very heights of tennis. You have done so magnificently with supreme courage and unmatched resilience.

I am hoping beyond hope that your gamble – for that is what it is – to have surgery will work and that you will mend and play again. If the eventual news from your medical experts is the worst, however, then look to your wife and daughters and remember that a future without playing tennis is still an extraordinary future for you.

When you have to retire from playing, hopefully some years from now, then don’t look to the past, because it has passed, it’s gone.

Look ahead, think ahead, and in your own words of September, 2014: “Let’s do this.”