Angel Martinez says the love and support of everyone around Chesterfield FC gave him extra motivation to overcome his injury nightmare.
The midfielder is on his way back, having played his first football for 15 months in the Derbyshire Senior Cup and reserve league in recent weeks.
Martinez suffered a serious knee injury in training last September, having played just three times for Town, and needed three operations.
After multiple setbacks he appears to have turned a corner and says he’s out to repay Town fans who played a big part in his rehabilitation.
He said: “Since the beginning when I had my operation every single time I come to the stadium for a game people have been asking about me knee, wishing me all the best.
“When I had my second and third operations people were feeling sorry for me and I’ve been feeling that support, I had just played three games here but almost everyone knows me at the games, asking for me and being kind to me and my family.
“I really want to get past it, get on the pitch and translate all that love, all this support into helping the team get some points when I’m 100 per cent.”
He admits there were dark times when there was uncertainty over his future, but support kept him going: “People have been unbelievable with me, giving love, helping and supporting me, messages on social media, everywhere.
“I got that confidence you need when you are injured, when you don’t know what’s going to happen next year.
“The support of my team-mates, staff, fans, my family, gave me the extra motivation to be back as soon as possible.”
A holding midfielder, Martinez hadn’t attempted a long pass until the county cup game against Aston United when adrenaline took over.
He sees game time as vital for his recovery.
“In training I know the lads are looking after me, they don’t want to tackle me, but it’s what I need, to play against another team, real football, get in real situations to get the strength I need.”