Holger Badstuber insisted he "had no doubt" he would make his comeback with FC Bayern München after ending a 200-day injury-enforced absence in Saturday's defeat of VfB Stuttgart.
The ever-popular Germany international received a standing ovation from the Allianz Arena crowd when he came off the bench to replace Thomas Müller just before the hour mark of his side’s 4-0 Matchday 12 victory.
It marked the end of a long road to recovery after the latest in a miserable run of serious injuries that have stunted the defender's career development in recent seasons.
'I had no doubt'
Starting with a knee ligament rupture in a game against Borussia Dortmund in December 2012, Badstuber suffered setback upon setback before finally returning last season. He then tore a thigh muscle early in the campaign, and after returning in April, did so again, which had sidelined him until Stuttgart arrived in Munich.
It is a streak of ill fortune that would have crushed many a spirit, but Badstuber insisted his belief he would return to the pitch had remained unflinching.
"I had no doubt, otherwise I would not have been able to do it again and again," the 26-year-old said after his 144th and arguably most significant top-flight outing for Bayern yet. "It was great to get an appearance and that the coach has a good feeling about it."
'We need him'
With Bayern aiming to challenge domestically and in European competition, it is hardly surprising Pep Guardiola is delighted with Badstuber's return.
"Thirty minutes is the first step," the Bayern boss, who also saw Medhi Benatia play for the first time since Matchday 2, explained. "He needs time to get back to his best. We need him, because we have played with just one centre-back up till now."
Prior to the game, Guardiola had suggested Badstuber could play some part, but had acknowledged a place in the starting XI was still some way off, a fact the player himself recognises, and one he will be able to work on while a host of his Bayern team-mates head off for international duty.
"My body's able to cope with the strain and I feel good, but after two weeks' training, I also know that I’m still lacking something," he said. "I have my first appearance behind me and now things move on. Now I have to work even more."