USA international Tyler Adams believes his seven-month spell on the sidelines with injury has helped him mature as a player after making his comeback for RB Leipzig in the club's final game of 2019 on Matchday 17.
The 20-year-old had not featured in a competitive game since starting the DFB Cup final against Bayern Munich on 25 May earlier this year, and has since been plagued by a persistent groin complaint.
However, his long-awaited return finally came on Saturday when head coach Julian Nagelsmann thrust him back into action – in the starting line-up no less – as Die Roten Bullen overcame Augsburg 3-1 to sit top of the standings over the winter break.
Indeed, it is that same positive mentality that got Adams through the tough times and brought him out a better person for it.
"When football is your job and you don't have it every single day, you feel like you're missing something," the Leipzig No.14 told bundesliga.com.
"So now that I'm back out here playing, enjoying the team and enjoying the football again, in a winning side as well, it is very exciting. My teammates have helped me along the road, my friends and family. It's been an important journey, a useful experience for me to mature as a player, but I'm excited to be back now."
Watch: Adams: "I'm excited to be back"
That excitement certainly translated into tangible output on the field against Augsburg. Although normally a central midfielder, Nagelsmann initially asked Adams to play at right-back, where he has deputised a few times for the US national team under Gregg Berhalter.
Only two teammates made more than the 33 sprints he produced during his 86 minutes on the pitch, while he won nine tackles, had 80 touches of the ball and completed 85 per cent of all his passes. All of which contributed to his remarkable record in the Bundesliga: in his 11 outings to date, Adams has won seven, drawn three and lost just once.
Adams now has four weeks over the Bundesliga's annual winter break to continue his recovery and build up his fitness before helping Leipzig's bid for a maiden Bundesliga title when they return to host Union Berlin on Saturday 18 January 2020.