Laurent Koscielny is back - and he says he’s “a better man” for his injury.
The captain ruptured his Achilles during our Europa League semi-final defeat against Atletico Madrid in April, and was ruled out of France’s triumphant World Cup campaign.
Laurent ended an eight-month wait for first-team football when he came off the bench against Huddersfield on Saturday, concluding a long, arduous journey that has brought out the best in the 33-year-old.
“It makes you a better person, a better man,” he told Arsenal.com in an exclusive feature, ‘Laurent Koscielny - Stronger’.
“I talked to a lot of people who had been injured like me, or in their knees, so it’s like six months [out], and they told me that you miss football a lot and when you come back you are so hungry. You want to eat everything and grow on the pitch and just enjoy and be happy with what you can do on the pitch.
“These are real things that I have in me. I’m hungry to play football again and to play with my teammates, so I don’t think people will say ‘you have been injured and will be less stronger than before’. I think you are mentally stronger than any people who didn’t have an injury like you’ve had.
“A lot of people said, ‘OK, he went to Saint-Raphael in the south of France and it was sunny and he’s enjoying his holiday’, but for me it wasn’t a holiday. Every week I trained with two sessions and they made it quick enough so that I could enjoy my time with my family at the weekend. But during two-and-a-half months from June 10 to August 20 I trained five days a week.”
Laurent had the support of his family and friends but, inevitably, a long rehabilitation process comes with its share of loneliness as each small step to recovery is taken.
“When you are fit, you have a lot of friends and a lot of people who love you and everything, and when you are injured all these people forget you,” said Laurent. “But it’s nice because for me I don’t forget and I can realise which people are with me and love me, so it’s important for my life to know about this.
“You miss everything,” he added. “You miss the love you can have with your teammates, you miss the pitch, you miss all the conversations with your teammates during treatment or gym sessions.
“For a football player and in collective sports, it’s important to get back with your teammates because you live with them as well. If you want to be better and happy then with them you can be.”
Copyright 2019 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.