Aussie actor Anthony LaPaglia was so embarrassed about his pronounced limp he sought medical help, only to discover he needed a full left hip replacement.

The 46-year-old SUMMER OF SAM star admits his limp wrecked his life for years and left him in a lot of pain, but since undergoing surgery he's pain free and living a new life.

He says, "I never used to speak about it... I thought I was too young but the doctor I saw said, `I have guys that are 25.'

"It's a degenerative condition where basically the cartilage around the ball of your femur completely disappears so you just have bone on bone... It wasn't a lot of fun."

Lapaglia admits stupid decisions he made about his health while he was playing professional soccer in his native Australia as a teenager are partly to blame for his discomfort - and the need for a hip operation.

He adds, "When you're 17 and you get injured there's five guys behind you who want your spot, so you decide, I'm taking cortisone shots so I don't lose my spot,' and I did that for about six months.

"The long term effect was I think it ate away the cartilage. In the long run it weakens your ligaments and tissue."

LaPaglia admits the surgery, which he had done last summer (04) has been such a success he has already returned to playing full competitive soccer for two amateur California teams.

He says, "Before my operation I couldn't tie my shoelace on the left side."

19/04/2005 02:41