Andros Townsend says he broke down in tears after a free transfer move to Burnley collapsed over the summer.
The former England winger had agreed terms after a successful trial but the Clarets withdrew the offer as they did not want to stifle the development of some of their younger players.
He is still a free agent after leaving Everton last season.
“It was probably one of the toughest conversations I’ve had in my career,” said the 32-year-old.
Speaking to Radio 5’s Monday Night Club , Townsend said he has spent the past month trying to earn a contract elsewhere but has been “rejected by so many clubs” both at home and abroad.
Burnley manager Vincent Kompany praised Townsend for how he performed during his time at the club but a successful summer in the transfer market that saw the likes of Luca Koleosho, 22, and Zeki Amdouni, 19, move to Turf Moor, forced a rethink.
“If I was bad and knew I wasn’t going to get a contract I could prepare myself. But to be looking at houses, looking at schools, talking about squad numbers and then to be told the contract is no longer on offer, it rocked my world,” said Townsend.
“I argued my point, put my case forward. That I offer something different, that I’m comfortable being a squad player and good around the squad even when not playing.
“But now after watching Burnley’s first five games, I understand. With Luca Koleosho and Zeki Amdouni, these young players they have brought in. Burnley are a club that like sellable assets, so begrudgingly I understand why he [Kompany] made that decision not to block their pathway by signing a 32-year-old.”
After leaving Burnley Townsend returned to London and has been training with his former club Tottenham’s under-18 side to keep fit while he tries to find a new club.
“I was in Turkey the whole of deadline day. An agent said ‘100% I’ve got this deal’. I waited the whole of deadline day and it didn’t happen. That’s been my month, people giving me false hope,” he said.
“A random agent said he had this club in the third division of Saudi Arabia and the president was desperate to sign me. After sleeping on it I got excited about playing football again.
“So I called him the next morning, which was Saudi deadline day, and he said he would set up a meeting. I eventually got told the president was not bringing any players in and the deadline passed.”
The former Newcastle player believes his 18-month lay-off with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury suffered while at Everton in March 2022 is putting some clubs off.
“The situation is I’ve not played a competitive match for 18 months so because of my age and lack of minutes English clubs can’t take that risk,” he said.
“I looked abroad and thought clubs would be desperate to sign a player of my experience but it was the same again, lack of minutes.
“The ACL is a very complex injury and when players get it in the latter stages of their career they sometimes never fully recover to their previous selves, so that’s the worry.
“Managers also don’t want a player on trial during the season because that sends out a message to the existing players that he doesn’t trust them. That may change if results don’t go their way in the next few weeks.
“I’m waiting for the phone to ring now.”