Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has revealed he travelled to Crimea in a bid to treat the back injury which has forced him out of next month's World Cup.
The 23-year-old has not played since Germany's 3-3 draw with Paraguay in August 2013 due to inflamed nerves in his back, and told magazine Sport Bild that he even flew to Ukraine to see a specialist.
"I have seen some specialists, including spending time in Ukraine to get an expert's opinion," said the Borussia Dortmund defensive midfielder.
"My cousin is a volleyball player for the Turkey national team and she had the same injury a few years ago and was treated successfully there."
Gundogan spent several days in a Crimea children's hospital, which also treats adults, the visit taking place before the recent annexation of Crimea by Russia.
Gundogan now says he is on course to be fit when the new Bundesliga season starts on August 22.
"I feel better now and will use the summer months in order to get back to top condition," he said.
"My goal is to be fit again for the start of the season and it's a realistic one."
Despite missing the last nine months, Gundogan recently signed a one-year contract extension with Dortmund until 2016.