• Guilavogui broke his neck in a pre-season friendly.
  • Recovered to play six Bundesliga games in 2016/17.
  • Says he is lucky not to be paralysed.

Four months after breaking his neck in a summer friendly, VfL Wolfsburg's Josuha Guilavogui is back calling the shots in the Wolves' midfield like he has never been away.

The 26-year-old France international suffered the setback on 31 July against Lisbon's Sporting Clube de Portugal and only four months on, he told how he dealt with the incident and the ensuing recovery and return to action. Josuha Guilavogui, are you now a bit afraid when you go into challenges, given what happened?

Josuha Guilavogui: I wouldn't say I'm afraid, although there is something in the back of my mind. I think that's understandable, though, after what I have been through. I'd think to myself 'what's the best way to go into the tackle to come out healthily', but things are getting better and I'm feeling better all the time.

Guilavogui felt something was seriously wrong when he could not turn his head to the right. © imago / Global Images What actually happened and how has the injury been? 

Guilavogui: It's not a run-of-the-mill injury but rather quite a rare one – more frequent in other sports like rugby. I just fell on my neck after an aerial duel and felt straight away that something had happened. My neck broke in three places. I heard a strange noise and knew it wasn't normal, but I didn't really think it was that bad, until I couldn't turn my head to the right and I knew something serious had happened. What went through your mind?

Guilavogui: I just hoped that it wasn't so serious, and then I was taken to hospital and told what it was. It was hard to take. I needed a few days for it to sink in that I was going to be out for 12 weeks.

"I am just so grateful to be able to play football again, and to do so pain-free at the highest level." - Josuha Guilavogui But it could have been worse...

Guilavogui: I'm aware of that. When I was told what it was, I didn't realise how lucky I had actually been. It's such a sensitive area that it could have been so much worse. Just a few centimetres more and I could have been paralysed for life. Several doctors have told me that so, in the end, I've been really lucky. I am just so grateful to be able to play football again, and to do so pain-free at the highest level. What would you wish for in 2017?

Guilavogui: Certainly I would put good health at the top of the list, and then I want to play as many games as I can and have a calmer and more successful second half of the season with Wolfsburg.

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