Stevie May admits he feared at one point that his serious knee injury would end his career.
The Preston North End front man scored his first goal for the club in the 1-1 draw with relegated Rotherham at Deepdale on Saturday.
It was the Scot’s first start since October 2015, the 24-year-old badly damaging three ligaments in his right knee at Fulham the following month.
“I was relatively good throughout my time out but the hardest was probably being told you might not be able to play again,” said May.
“That was talked about when I found out the severity of the injury.
“I had to wait three months for one to heal then I could get the other two ligaments operated on.
“It was a long road and I did think ‘what if I can’t get back to what I was?’
“But I feel gradually I’m feeling better week in and week out.
“I’ve been fit and ready to go for a while now I think so to get my chance to go out and play is nice.”
May had made three substitute appearances on his road to recovery from an injury similar to the one that has ruled out Manchester United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“When we got the scan back originally we didn’t realise it was three ligaments, we thought it was just two,” said May.
“The PCL was out of nowhere and there was a tiny fracture behind the knee.
“My calf hit the back of my thigh bone it was that bad.
“It was tough to hear that side of things but once it was done it was just about hard work from there.
“It’s helpful that the staff and the boys here are good with everyone. Whether you’re playing or not you feel involved.”
The former Sheffield Wednesday front man’s first goal for the club was almost worth the wait, a superb finish into the top corner from 20 yards cancelling out Richard Smallwood’s opener.
“Ideally we would have won the game but overall on a personal note it’s good to be back on the pitch and scoring goals,” said May.
“I would have taken a tap in all day but for it to go in like that was even nicer. It’s been a long road but moments like that make it worthwhile.”