Suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he had been close to death as he lay in hospital due to a stress-related illness earlier this month.
In his first public comments since emerging from treatment, Blatter told Swiss broadcaster RTS that he was "really between the angels who sing and the devil who stokes the fire".
"It was the angels who sang," said Blatter without going into details of his condition.
Blatter was admitted to hospital in early November, weeks after FIFA's ethics committee launched an investigation into his conduct and that of his former protege, European football boss Michel Platini.
The FIFA body suspended both men, then called on Saturday for sanctions against them, deepening the storm building up around the sport which is also facing criminal enquiries in Switzerland and the United States.
Blatter, who left hospital on November 12, again defended his record in the interview but said he wished he had stepped down at the height of his career, after last year's World Cup in Brazil.
"I regret that I didn't say to myself 'Blatter, you have reached the peak, you have done some good things, you can't do more than this, you should stop'."
Blatter, meanwhile, said Platini, who refused to back him in the FIFA elections earlier this year, was "an honest man".
"If he comes back, then he will be elected. ... And if he comes back, then I will come back as well. There was nothing under the table ... even in the FIFA rules, it's allowed to make a written or an oral contract."
Blatter, who has been at the head of FIFA since 1998, faces criminal investigation in Switzerland over a 2 million Swiss franc ($1.96m) payment from FIFA to Platini.
Both men have denied wrongdoing.