Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano admits he questioned whether putting up with injury and mental torment was all worth it after being being sidelined for most of the first half of the season.
However, the Israeli internationalist admits his return to the side coupled with a sustained charge under new head coach Paul Heckingbottom has ensured the dark days of being stuck in the treatment room have given way to personal and collective optimism.
The 29-year-old underwent an operation to mend a broken finger, which he had been managing since February 2018, last summer.
But after returning to the side in December, Marciano then sustained a knee injury just 14 minutes into his third match back at Rangers.
That set-back only kept the shot-stopper out for three matches and Marciano has played in every league game since the turn of the year, including the five wins from six matches achieved under Heckingbottom’s tenure.
The former Ashdod player, however, admits his hugely frustrating spell out pushed his patience to the limit.
He said: “You always ask yourself when you’re injured if it’s worth it when you’re coming from a different country and everything.
“I’d be turning up here, training everyday trying to get as fit as I can. It’s not a pleasant time but one that you need to face and get through.
“At the end of the day that’s why I’m here, to play.
“I’m happy now that I’m playing and playing well. I appreciate it and don’t take it for granted. I try to keep myself fit and in the best form that I can.
“It’s been a really weird season for me because before I didn’t really get injured but now I’ve had two injuries this year.
“Thank God I’m fit now and this is the only thing that I’m focusing on. I really appreciate the place that I’m in now.
“The most important thing is to stay healthy, work hard and take it because this is a privilege, to play football.”
From experiencing a deep feeling of helplessness, Marciano is now relishing an exciting end to the season, which starts with tonight’s visit of third place Kilmarnock before Saturday’s final pre-split match at city rivals Hearts.
Sixth place Hibs have thrust themselves right back into Europa League contention, only six points adrift of this evening’s opponents, and Marciano admits there is a lot to look forward to.
He added: “Last year we saw, in this league when you have a good run it can take you really high. We’ve done that now and I’m happy because with the squad we have, we deserve at least top six. We worked hard for it.”
“It’s a cliche but we have to think game by game now and once again it’s really important for us.
“Every week we have like six point games so that’s what we should think.
“We’ll try to win every game and you never know, we could finish higher than we thought.”