Hibs goalkeeper Adam Bogdan admits his mental and physical resilience was put to the test during 18 months of injury torment.
However, the Hungary internationalist hopes his stunning Europa League performance against Asteras Tripolis will now mark the start of his career being back on track following a hugely frustrating knee cruciate ligament injury issue at Liverpool.
Bogdan was literally a one-man barricade during intense second half pressure in Thursday’s 1-1 draw. Having taken a first-half lead to give themselves a two-goal cushion, Hibs were made to sweat after the home side pulled a goal back, but they survived to earn a second qualifying round 4-3 aggregate victory.
Manager Neil Lennon hailed his display as “world class” and described a save to repel Taso Douvikas’ downward header as Gordon Bankseque.
Bogdan was reunited with former Bolton manager Lennon last month on a loan deal from Liverpool and is thrilled to have earned plaudits for his contribution against Tripolis.
Bogdan said: “There are some nights when it all goes your way and others when it doesn’t.
“Even when everything falls into place, you can never get carried away. I prepared well last week and I feel that showed on the pitch but maybe on another occasion Asteras would have scored three goals, who knows?
“You need to stay calm and not get carried away just because you’ve made a couple of saves. Thankfully it all worked out well.
“I now feel as though I’m back, both physically and mentally.
“It was a good compliment to get from the gaffer although I haven’t seen the save back yet. I know of Gordon Banks and I know his famous save for England against Brazil but he managed to do it on a bigger stage.
“I managed to make the save and help the team, that’s all that mattered. You aim to do the same things in every game and then try and recover as best you can.
“There are highs and lows coming all of the time so all you do is focus on your job.”
Bogdan sustained the ACL tear whilst on loan at Wigan in November 2016 and admits countless aborted comeback attempts compounded his disappointment at being sidelined.
He added: “The spell during my time out injured was so frustrating.
“I was on loan at Wigan from Liverpool and my recovery didn’t go as planned.
“Every time I stepped on to the pitch the time for my recovery was pushed back due to having fluid on my knee.
“I needed to get a needle in it to try and get the fluid reduced and then wait for that to happen and start all over again.
“That’s how it was for me for 18 months despite initially being told the injury would only keep me out for eight months.
“It was a hard time for me, I struggled a bit as there was never enough progress.
“It all up and down. I finally managed to train towards the end of last season but you need more than couple of games to get that sharpness back. I had been feeling good but I knew I needed games.”
Bogdan, who is now set to make his Premiership debut in today’s visit of Motherwell, admits the injury soured what was a fairytale switch to Anfield from Bolton in 2015.
He added: “My time there started well, I had a couple of good games and then some not so good games.
“I went on loan but a big chunk of my Liverpool career has been spent either in the gym or with the physio.
“I managed to be part of a club which played in a Europa League final and a Champions League final so it’s been a good experience.”