Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson hopes he has finally recovered from his serious back injury.
The former Manchester United player had been out since August with a long-standing problem.
Richardson marked his first start in four months with a goal and an assist in Saturday's crucial 3-1 win over Bolton.
The 23-year-old admitted it was frustrating to be out for so long and he hopes his injury problems are now firmly behind him.
"Towards the end of the season at United I had a niggle in my back," Richardson told The Sun.
"I thought maybe it is my bed. They didn't pick it up and through the whole of Euro 2007 I was in agony.
"I didn't know what it was. When I came here I didn't know what it was. I had a medical and they didn't pick it up.
"Then after the Liverpool game I couldn't sleep properly and had a scan and that showed a fracture in my spine. I was gutted. They told me it was three months minimum. I was devastated.
"There was a suggestion of an operation but I didn't want that on my spine. Being a young man, you want natural healing to do the trick.
"It is a bad injury but touch wood it's over now. I was playing in a lot of pain, especially in the Euros.
"I don't know if it's completely healed yet but I don't feel in any pain and hopefully I will be okay for the rest of my career."
Richardson added: "But because of the injury football does mean more to me now than it did beforehand - and I am more hungry.
"You do take football for granted sometimes. You realise how much you love it. I have missed it so much."