Nigerian defender Tyronne Ebuehi says he is happy to have the chance to “play the game that I love again” after recovering from a knee injury which kept him sidelined for two years.
The 24-year-old was one of Nigeria’s top players in the 2018 World Cup, but he soon ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments – an injury which meant he didn’t play a single competitive game for Benfica, the club he signed for in May of that year from Dutch side ADO Den Haag.
Ebuehi is back in the Netherlands after being loaned to FC Twente and says he is grateful to the club for giving him the chance to taste first-team action again.
“It’s been a long period out and a hard time for me,” Ebuehi told BBC Sport Africa.
“Of course, questions like ‘could this be the end?’ can pop up from time to time.
“You sometimes hear that with this type of major injuries players never return to the same level they were before the injury.”
Ebuehi had the misfortune of picking up his injury just as he was trying to settle in a new country and in a new working environment.
“It was difficult in the beginning I can’t lie about that,” he admitted. “To be away from the only country you have ever known, where you’re born and away from your family and friends. You feel alone knowing it was just no longer possible for them to just pass by.”
“It’s changed me a lot. Not only as a player but as a person. Away in another country being alone. Sometimes it’s like an unseen tears of frustration because of the mental pain.
“Like I always tell my family and friends now, that I’m thankful to God for this type of hard lessons sometimes in life.
“It really made me aware of a lot of things, like how to take care of my body now. How things can happen in football, how to deal with them. I’m thankful for the lessons that God gave me.
“Going forward in my career, I know how to take care of myself and what’s good for me, how to handle any future injuries, hopefully it will not happen.”