Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman made his return to the field after 390 days out of action with a series of injuries and was delighted to finally cross the white line again.
Strootman played 12 minutes of Roma’s 5-0 drubbing of Palermo on Sunday as he continued his return from his injury hell.
The Dutchman first injured his cruciate ligaments during a match against Napoli in 2014 before being forced to have two more operations.
“It’s been far too long,” Strootman told the club’s official website.
“After three operations, I’m back at the Olimpico for a match that we won 5-0. It’s perfect, I’m over the moon.
“Finally, I feel like a footballer again.”
A 25-time Netherlands international, Strootman, 26, admitted he did fear for his playing career.
“I never [feared] about stopping, but I was certainly afraid,” he said.
“Just before the third operation was a difficult moment because I had got back to 80 per cent and was feeling good, but then they told me I had to have another operation.
“That was tough but I worked well with the medical and coaching staff, as well as everyone else concerned, my team-mates included. I’m back playing now, still not 100 per cent but I’m working hard to get there.”
And with Roma sealing a fifth win in a row in the league with their victory against Palermo, Strootman is hopeful about what the rest of the season can bring.
“It’s difficult to say [where Roma will finish], but we’ve picked up five wins in a row and we want to continue like this,” he said.
“We need points because Juventus and Napoli are winning almost every week. We want to finish in a good position in the league.”
Strootman said he had a good relationship with Roma coach Luciano Spalletti, but did not wish to comment on the issue between the coach and the club’s captain Francesco Totti, saying: “I don’t want to speak about this, it’s to do with our captain and our coach. They’ll speak tomorrow.
“We had to concentrate solely on today’s game and Monday’s training session.”