Michael Johnson has revealed the torment of his spell on the sidelines but believes it has made him stronger.
The Manchester City midfielder is finally back to fitness after a year out with an abdominal injury, although he admits it will take some time to return to peak condition.
He concedes it was hugely frustrating to spend so long away from the team, especially as he kept suffering setbacks that tested his patience.
However, Johnson feels he now has more mental strength and is looking forward to playing regularly again at the highest level.
"It felt like I was injured for a lot longer than a year because there were so many times when I thought I was close and then the injury would flare up again," Johnson told the Sunday Mirror.
"There was never any point when I felt it was over for me. I'd get down about my situation sometimes, but I always knew it was only a matter of time before I'd be back.
"It can be tough to keep going, especially when you think you're there and then you suffer another setback.
"Then you pick yourself up, motivate yourself to go in the next day and start all over again.
"I'm a lot tougher mentally now than I was before the injury - because I've had to be.
"I'm probably still another few months away from getting back into the physical shape I was in before the injury.
"I reckon it will be another eight or 10 games before I'll really be knocking on the door of the first team."
During Johnson's absence there were stories about his lifestyle but he has dismissed suggestions that he spent too much time in nightclubs.
He said: "People have their perceptions of all footballers.
"Sometimes they're rational and other times ridiculous - unfortunately with me there's been too many times when it has been the latter.
"Some of the stuff about me going out on the town was ridiculous. When I was in the team there was never any suggestion that how I live my life away from the club was having a negative affect.
"But people see you out, they think, 'He shouldn't be here, he's injured, that's why he can't get himself fit'.
"They put two and two together and make five."