Cologne - In the 63rd minute of FC Bayern München's first friendly of the year, against the Qatar All-Stars, finally made his long-awaited onfield comeback – the latest one, it should be added.
Patience the key
Four months after tearing a thigh tendon just a few games into his even longer-awaited return from a double cruciate ligament injury, Badstuber was “simply delighted to be back on the road with the team again.” And after two virtually uninterrupted years on the sidelines, he was equally delighted to be able to announce that, “I feel good, physically and mentally, there's not the slightest twinge remaining from the injury.”
The nightmare began for the now 25-year-old defender in the game against arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund on 1 December 2012, when Badstuber ruptured the anterior ligament in his right knee in a tussle with future Bayern team-mate Mario Götze. Six months into the rehabilitation process he then suffered a re-rupture, adding another year of football-free frustration to the sorry saga. The thigh injury picked up against VfB Stuttgart in mid-September just capped it all off, but Badstuber has battled back yet again - “because I enjoy playing football so much,” as he straightforwardly put it himself.
A runout in a training camp friendly is one thing, of course, a regular place in the squad for the serious action quite another. That's the aim for the 30-time Germany international over the back-end of the season and he's more than willing to go about it gradually, having, after all, “got patience off-pat.” The immediate priority is “to stay fit and healthy for an extended period. Everything else is secondary to that. I want to show that I'm up to the job again.”
On the evidence so far, he more than likely will be. That short-lived comeback at the start of the season was Badstuber's first taste of competitive action under Pep Guardiola, and he coped admirably with the Catalan tactician's notoriously demanding style. “I understand how he works, I've been following the training very closely from the sidelines,” he explained. “The next few weeks will show how I'm progressing.”
Guardiola himself has indicated all along that a fit-again Badstuber has a big part to play in his plans. A place back in the squad is already looming large for the former Bayern and Germany first-team fixture. Above and beyond that, as Holger Badstuber knows better than most, patience can reap its own reward.