David Meyler has spoken of his joy at awaking from his injury nightmare and completing his first 90 minutes in 10 months.
The unfortunate Sunderland midfielder has suffered two career-threatening injuries in the last 18 months and has spent more than his fair share of time on the sidelines.
The 22-year-old is, however, able to see 'light at the end of the tunnel' after making a successful return to competitive action.
A cameo appearance in the Black Cats' 2-2 draw with West Brom on Saturday has been followed by a reserve run-out in midweek and Meyler admits he is delighted to be back.
"It's great," Meyler told the Shields Gazette.
"It felt good to play a full game again, and I've had no reaction to it whatsoever - the knee feels fine, and I'm pleased with that.
"I know I've got to take my time, and be careful as I come back, but there's really light at the end of the tunnel now, and I'm looking forward to getting fitter and sharper now."
Meyler has shown considerable mental strength to battle back from two serious knee ligament injuries and is pleased to see all of his hard work finally paying off.
"There is a mental hurdle to get over when you've had a serious injury, but getting through the 90 minutes last night (Tuesday) - and the few minutes I had in the first team at the weekend - has got me over that," he added.
"To come off the bench on Saturday against West Brom was fantastic, if a little unexpected. I hadn't been in the original squad, but David Vaughan was ill and I was told to get myself ready.
"To be honest, I was shocked by the reception I got when I came on to the pitch - to hear the fans cheering like they did. I was thrilled and I'd like to thank all the fans for the support they have given me.
"I was delighted to have got on, and it goes to show that the manager has got trust and faith in me. Now I just want to get back playing and repay him."