Leicester City defender Ricardo Pereira says his latest return to action feels like he has “won against the injuries” after being sidelined for more than 500 days over the past three years.
The 29-year-old made his first appearance of the season in Leicester’s win over Tottenham earlier this month.
He had surgery on a ruptured Achilles in August, his second operation in two years after a knee injury in 2020.
“This last one was different. I felt more wise,” Pereira said.
“I knew it was a big number [of days missed], but I didn’t count.
“It was frustration at the beginning, you wonder and overthink about a lot of things.
“I saw things differently this time. I didn’t have time to overthink or feel sorry for myself.
“I just thought there is nothing I can do now, if I cry for 10 hours it’s not going to change anything, so let’s smile.
“It happened, I went through that and it gives me more belief that I won against the injuries and things will get better for sure.”
Portugal international Pereira says his injury woes of recent years were put into perspective by what other footballers have gone through.
He said the retirement of Barcelona’s Sergio Aguero on health grounds just months after leaving Manchester City, and the image of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsing at the European Championship made an impact on him.
“Aguero stopped playing, Eriksen almost died on the field, so I just tried to stay positive,” Pereira told BBC East Midlands Today.
“It’s a thing I look back on and am proud of myself for, because I kept my good spirits. Being a funny guy I laughed with the physios every day. It gets easier like that.”
Pereira, who has made 114 appearances for the Foxes since arriving from Porto in the summer of 2018, says he “does not fear” further injuries but grapples with it mentally.
“I won’t lie, sometimes it happens those thoughts,” he said.
“Whenever I go a step forward in the recovery I feel confident to do it.
“In my own experience I don’t have that fear, but of course I have thoughts that something may happen again. But you have to go against these fears and thoughts, and you will be all right.”