Van Ginkel went in for routine ACL surgery in the summer of 2018 after a loan spell with PSV Eindhoven.
But he wouldn't play again until earlier this season, yet again on loan at PSV, after a horrific few years.
He told Goal: "The danger was there that I would lose my career, of course.
"Especially after the first week of infection, they didn't know what the infection was doing inside the joint.
"After three months I reacted well, but it was going to be a tough, tough time to be at the top level again, to come back and play for PSV, Chelsea or whoever. At that moment, it was more about whether I could walk again. Football didn't matter.
"The infection that came six weeks after my operation killed my knee a bit. That's why it took so long, it damaged my knee and cruciate and I had to be operated on all over again. It was a very hard time.
"It was explained to me that these things could happen sometimes, but only to one in 200 people after surgery. It is very unlikely you get it, but some get an infection. I was one of them and it was quite bad."
Van Ginkel is a Chelsea player in name but has rarely feature for the club, with just four appearances to his name.
Other loan moves have involved stints with AC Milan and Stoke City as well as PSV.
He was offered a contract extension by the Blues last summer and his current deal will expire this summer.
When asked about a potential future at Stamford Bridge, the Dutchman refused to make any promises.
"My focus is just on PSV at the moment and the rest, we will see," he added "If I can get back to my level, then I know my qualities, but it is just focusing on PSV and myself at the moment. I want some more minutes in the next few games.
"The mindset you need to make it is the same that you need to come back. It is to get better every day and I did it. If you don't have that, you will never come back after a big, big injury.
"I am just happy to be a footballer again."
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