By Rob Kelly
Abou Diaby says he has “revenge to take over the time I lost” after making a successful return from injury this season.
The France international only managed 98 minutes of first-team action during the 2011/12 campaign, but has started all three of Arsenal’s Premier League games this term.
The midfielder insists he was always confident he would prove his fitness and get back to his very best form for Arsène Wenger’s side.
“I had some very difficult moments, some days when I was depressed when it was tough. But even then, I always kept faith,” Diaby said in an interview with Le Parisien. “I always told myself that some people were in a worse position than me.
“When you see Eric Abidal [who has had a liver transplant], you think twice about yourself. I just had to get my body sorted.
“I am 26 and I am aware that I am at a key moment in my career. That's why it was so important that I came back this season. Last year I told myself, ‘I am injured again, I am nearly 26 and I am at a key turn. Either, I take the turn well and I succeed, either I don't take it and it will become very, very difficult.’
“Now, I am careful about every detail, I leave nothing to chance. I am much more mature. I also had a full pre-season for the first time in ages. It's such an important season for me that I am working harder than ever to succeed.
“I have revenge to take over the time I lost but I want to prove to myself that I can go higher. I am getting to an age and to a time in my career where I need to show what I can do on the pitch in the long term.
“I don’t want to miss out on anything. I know what my qualities are and I want to use them to go higher. I have played three games this season, I getting better but I can do more. Physically, I am only 70 per cent.”
While Diaby admits there were difficult times during his recovery, he says that giving up was never an option for him.
“[When you have] a season without playing you're never sure of anything,” he said. “I am usually calm but last season it started to play on my mind.
“Before, I was never apprehensive before a game after an injury. It was almost like I had never been injured. But last season, before the Fulham game, I was shaking on the bench because I was scared of getting injured again. It was incredible.
“All I wanted was to play again. I am born with a strong temper. I never give up. Maybe some people would have given up in my position but it was out of the question for me.
“It was my destiny, it was written [to come back]. I had to fight to put an end to all those injuries and to be able to express myself on a pitch again.”Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source