Having come on to a standing ovation 82 minutes into RSC Anderlecht's final game of the season against K. Sint-Truidense VV, Polish defender Marcin Wasilewski's injury nightmare seems to be over.
Having suffered a nasty double fracture of his leg in a league game against R. Standard de Liège back on 30 August 2009, there were doubts as to whether the 29-year-old would play again, but after making his return for the Belgian champions he told UEFA.com: "I have been given a second footballing life and I want to make the most of it."
Wasilewski's injury required five separate operations. The player remembered: "
At the start, it looked like I had been bitten by a shark. They gave me an ocean of painkillers in the first days as I was in real pain, but it got worse after the fourth operation. My wife told me I was biting my pillow to get through the pain."
However, he is grateful for the care he received, and could not fault the commitment of the Anderlecht fans, who became even more ardent during his long absence, buying jerseys bearing his name as a mark of their support. "In the 27th minute of every match, home or away, Anderlecht fans stopped singing and chanted my name for one minute, because I was injured in the 27th minute of the match against Standard," said Wasilewski. "I had fantastic support from them, as well as from Polish fans who sent me a lot of letters."
'Wasyl' showed enormous determination to recover. "I was a man possessed," he said. "I spent over ten hours a day on rehabilitation. Sometimes the doctors told me I was going too fast, but I was focused on one goal; getting back as soon as possible. The doctors said the I would be out for ten to 12 months, but I had my own date in mind; the last day of the season, which would mean eight months out."
That he managed to meet that target is testament to his immense motivation, and now he has a few more months to get ready for making a serious return at the start of next season, when Anderlecht will attempt to qualify for the UEFA Champions League. "The comeback was symbolic for me," he explained. "By doing this I wanted to thank all people who were close to me at the most difficult time of my life.
"I know there is a lot to do yet to regain top form, but this has given me an enormous boost," he added. "I am a hard worker; I am not afraid the sacrifices that lie ahead. Now, the rest of the Anderlecht players will have a month off; I will have no more than ten days. I know I have been given a second footballing life and I want to make the most of it."