Unknown to many, the injury that kept Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic sidelined since April was so severe that the Swede feared he would never return to football again.
The Swedish striker made this revelation after making his first appearance as a substitute in his side’s 4-1 Premier League thrashing of Newcastle United on Saturday.
“If people knew the real injury, they would be in shock that I was even playing. It was more than the knee but I will keep it personal – that’s why I choose not to talk of it,” he told UK newspapers.
“In my recovery I have not rushed anything. I have been out for six and half months. I have been following protocol and my schedule day by day.
“The only secret has been working hard. Those close to me know what I have been doing. I was working five, six hours a day.”
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 18, 2017
Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in all competitions for United last season before being released, only to sign a new one-year deal.
“At the moment I am just thankful I can run and push it and play football again,” Ibrahimovic said.
“I don’t know what the future brings but what happens, happens. I am at the age where I can choose what I want to do.
“I don’t sign five- or 10-year deals, I am just happy to be back playing and doing what I am good at.
“It’s fantastic to be playing. Jose [Mourinho, United manager] said, ‘Do whatever you want, I trust in you and you know what you have to do’ so I was not worried.
“The contract is all paperwork and I do the physical work.”
The former PSG and Barcelona forward came off for Anthony Martial in the second leg 2-1 victory over Anderlecht in last season’s Europa League but didn’t take further part as Jose Mourinho’s side went on to win the competition.