Wolves striker Raul Jimenez admits he finally feels like a footballer again following his “miracle” return from a fractured skull.
The Mexican suffered the sickening injury in a clash of heads with David Luiz – then of Arsenal – last November and made his competitive return in Saturday’s opening Premier League defeat by Leicester.
“The skull fracture, it took a little bit longer than we all expected to heal, but it is a miracle for me to be here with you,” he said.
Jimenez, who revealed he had no memory of the incident and had chosen to watch replays of it to see what happened, said he “felt really good” on his long-awaited return.
“I feel now that I’m a player again after a long almost nine months being out for this injury,” he said.
“I have being training the whole pre-season six weeks, so I think it was the right moment to come back and start the season again and I feel really good.”
Jimenez had been hopeful of returning towards the end of last season, only to be held back by scans which revealed his skull had not healed fully.
“The most difficult part (was) the last months of last season (when) I felt that I was ready, I felt that I was ready to be there, but it was the decision of the surgeons,” he said.
“My skull at that moment hadn’t fully recovered, but it was something that you can’t feel because you feel good, you feel prepared, but then at the last moment in the MRI or the scans it told us that it wasn’t fully recovered. That was the most difficult part because you think that you are ready but you are not.
“It’s not like I injured my knee and it’s something that I can feel and maybe I can’t walk. I felt really good at that moment but it was not my time yet.”
The 30-year-old explained he could not remember the incident or some of the events that occurred before and afterwards, but was keen to find out what happened.
“I asked to be sent videos of the different sides of the pitch. I like to see what happened, because for me it’s like it never happened because I don’t remember,” he said.
“Since the first moment they told me what happened, the risks, because they are doctors they have to tell you the truth and you have to take it. Sometimes it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s their job to tell you that.
“Since the beginning they were really supportive with me, the surgeons, the doctors they were with me in all moments.”
Jimenez wore a headguard on his return which featured specially designed padding which is thicker on one side to protect the more fragile area of his skull and it is a precaution he will continue to take.
Petr Cech wore a headguard after suffering a similar injury against Reading in 2006 and Jimenez revealed the support he had received from the former Chelsea goalkeeper.
“I have been in contact with Petr, he texted me that if I needed or wanted he was there,” Jimenez said.
“Once we went to a game in London, or the team went to a game in London, he went to the doctor to bring one of his helmets to see if we can do something similar. That kind of thing lets you know people are there with you – even if they don’t know you they are there to help.”