Rangers attacker Ianis Hagi claimed “there is no better feeling” as he nears the end of his gruelling battle back from injury.
The 24-year-old Romanian has been sidelined since damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in a Scottish Cup match against Stirling Albion in January.
However, he has now resumed training and senses he is almost finished with his “rollercoaster” journey back to fitness.
“I’m in a good place mentally, and physically I’m growing every week,” he told Rangers TV. “I can see progression. I’m happy.
“I was growing every season into Rangers and was enjoying my football so much but in just one second everything can just stop for you. It’s a rollercoaster through the journey but you just have to accept it.
“You have to just balance yourself and try to stay with your feet on the ground and work every day and be patient.
“I remember the first day I put my boots on again (to start training) and started feeling the grass, everything just felt like home.
“Even just a small run of 10 minutes, I enjoy probably twice as much as I was enjoying it before the injury. I can feel I am getting to my final destination and there is no better feeling.”
Hagi – the son of Romanian hero Gheorghe Hagi – has been broadening his horizons during his time out of action.
“It opened different doors,” he said. “Even though I’m young, I’ve always been keen on coaching. I’ve grown up beside my father and with him being a coach, I always looked differently at games.
“Having more free time, I’ve been looking at different books to try to understand the perspective of a coach and look at games from different angles to understand the team game and the decisions the coach has to make.
“I’ve also been trying to learn another language so I’m better with my Spanish. I’ve just been trying to develop myself as a person. I knew I had a lot of time away from the pitch and I knew I had to grow as a person and not stagnate.”
Hagi was humbled by how those closest to him helped him battle back from the serious injury.
“I will never forget what the people I love, my family have done for me,” he said. “I remember in the first two months when I was on crutches, I couldn’t do much.
“I had my mother doing things that she probably hadn’t done for me since I was four-years-old. It was so hard.
“I’m a 24-year-old guy who has been living on my own since I was 17 and I am used to doing everything for myself but now I had to ask for people to help me with everything. To have loved ones doing that for you is a special thing I will never ever take for granted.”