Muttiah Muralitharan says he believed his career could be over when he was called for throwing in Australia eight years ago.
Muralitharan has taken 459 Test wickets
The Sri Lanka spinner now ranks third in the list of Test wicket-takers with 459, and was last year rated by Wisden as the best bowler in the history of Test cricket.
But his first tour of Australia was thrown into turmoil when he was no-balled by umpire Darrell Hair during the second Test in Melbourne.
"There were times when I thought that it might be the end of my career," Muralitharan revealed in Wisden Cricket Asia magazine.
"I thought: I can't change my action ... this is how I have bowled from the start."
Muralitharan bowls with a bent elbow because of a congenital abnormality but extensive video analysis has shown his delivery is still within regulations.
"I was shocked," recalled the unorthodox bowler, who is currently playing county cricket with Kent.
"I had never considered the possibility of my action being illegal."
The problem returned three years later, when captain Arjuna Ranatunga led his side from the field in protest during a one-day international in Adelaide.
Only an exchange of phone calls between Ranatunga on the boundary and Sri Lanka board officials allowed the match against England to resume.
And the spinner pledged never to tour Australia again after being heckled by crowds last winter.
"Deep down I believed everything was all right because throwing and bowling are completely different: one requires the shoulder and the other the elbow," Muralitharan added.
"You can feel the difference."
Despite his altercations with Hair, Murali said he now shares a cordial relationship with the umpire, who was recently added to the International Cricket Council's elite panel of officials.
"We said hello in the matches where he has officiated since. There is no problem," he said.
"People make mistakes and that episode is now gone for me. I want to look forward."