A 20-month absence was a difficult time for former Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg – and in order tears rolled down her face on the finish of her return within the Ladies’s Champions League, it was a reminder of what she – and soccer – had missed.
Hegerberg, 26, suffered an anterior essential ligament damage in January 2020 when she was on the peak of her recreation.
The Norwegian had damaged the all-time Champions League goalscoring report 4 months beforehand – a yr after netting a hat-trick within the remaining as Lyon notched up their fourth successive title.
Final week she was in a position to “really feel like a footballer once more” as she got here on as an alternative to face Hacken in Lyon’s opening group recreation.
“I really feel like I’ve been reliving that second via my head all through all of those months,” she advised BBC Sport.
“There have been lots of feelings and pure pleasure as nicely. It is a large street left forward of me however that was like a giant win.
“I really feel like I did not want these 20 months to get a reminder of how a lot I beloved soccer, however it definitely gave me one other stage of appreciation of the game. It is my largest ardour and I really feel like slightly child once more once I play soccer and go to coaching. That is the way it ought to be.”
She’s again however there’s nonetheless work to do.
“You do not mess with the best stage and coming again to that,” Hegerberg mentioned.
“I do know I used to be at my finest earlier than these 20 months however I am life like when it comes to being affected person and understanding there’s lots of psychological and bodily work to be performed.
“This was an enormous step however there’s nonetheless a while left and lots of arduous work left. So long as you take pleasure in it and keep targeted, I do know with the work I put in, I’ll get there. I’m completely certain about it.”
‘It has been an excessive expertise’
Hegerberg describes her comeback as a “battle”.
It was compounded by the very fact a big a part of her rehabilitation came about throughout coronavirus restrictions.
“It is essential to care for your self and know at each level the place you might be at,” she mentioned.
“Are you doing an excessive amount of? Are you doing sufficient? It has been a relentless analysis via these months.
“I wish to name it a battle as a result of it has been an excessive expertise. Placing Covid-19 on high of it made it extra particular. I all the time felt very privileged as a result of I acquired the chance to go to the membership, see my team-mates and simply go bodily to work.
“I felt like I used to be in an excellent place relating to the entire state of affairs. However clearly being separated from the crew for such a protracted whereas has been very difficult.
“I’ve had tremendous brokers who’ve been like brothers to me and my household and husband, who’ve been wonderful. I additionally acquired to fulfill some individuals within the medical aspect who helped me get again to this place. It could have been very arduous to be the place I’m with out them.”
‘You know the way to proceed to win’
Whereas Hegerberg was injured, Lyon’s 5 years of European dominance got here to an finish after they have been knocked out within the quarter-finals of final season’s Champions League.
Barcelona have been ultimately topped champions however Hegerberg is eager to assist Lyon soar again to the highest of the pile this season.
“It is essential to look your self within the mirror after a season like that,” she mentioned.
“You look immediately at what went flawed with a view to – not do any fast fixes – however get down collectively and see what now we have to do to be even higher.
“We do not wish to cover. It is essential to be sincere. Now we have had an excellent begin to the season and the ladies have been coaching very nicely. Now we have a brand new dynamic within the crew with new gamers and a brand new coach. We’re on an excellent wave.
“Barcelona had an excellent season however we gained it 5 occasions in a row, which is simply insanity. Sooner or later, one thing would occur. There are challenges sooner or later. You must face them.
“I’ve enormous perception that we are going to do nicely this season as a result of when you know the way to win, you additionally know proceed to win.”
The Ladies’s Champions League will look to obtain its largest ever viewers this season, via a rights cope with broadcaster DAZN, who will present 61 matches on YouTube.
Hegerberg mentioned it got here “at precisely the very best time” and it’s now as much as the gamers to showcase what they’ll do to a brand new, international viewers.
“The entire organisation round it and the way skilled it was is the one factor we wish – professionalism in the whole lot we do,” she mentioned. “We would like good protection of those video games.
“We had some good matches final week however the season is lengthy. I hope us, the gamers, stick with that and we ship.”