Tomas Rosicky has spoken of his relief and delight after finally returning to full training at Arsenal.
The Czech Republic international has endured a miserable time with a series of injuries keeping him sidelined for the best part of 16 months.
Rosicky admits it has been the most difficult period of his career, with a number of reports over the last year having suggested his playing days could be over.
However, having returned to training this week, the talented schemer is looking to the future with renewed optimism.
"I had been waiting so long for this moment," he told his personal website.
"For Almost 16 months I had been looking forward to being able to tell someone that I am back fit. Today it was my first regular training session with Arsenal's first team at the training centre in Colney.
"With the fitness coach Tony Colbert I had been working hard so that he could tell me 'You're okay and ready to join the full training'. It could have come a bit earlier, but a groin problem, caused by the training burden, complicated it.
"Today it was a regular 80-minute training session and it felt like paradise. Since January 2008 so much has happened that now being together with the first team and being able to kick the ball around feels great. I did not feel to be of use here."
Not match fit
Rosicky admits that while his rehabilitation is going to plan he is still some way short of being match-fit.
"I am quite well in terms of fitness, but I need to be fitter to be able to start in the Premier League. The groin is healed up, nothing hurts me, I am not tired, so everything is in a good way.
"I have not forgotten how to play football but, of course, it is not ideal after such a long break. Most of all, I need to restore the confidence in ball possession and to get used again to the movement amongst the players on the pitch."