Jack Wilshere admits there were times during his 14 months on the treatment table he did not want to even think about football, but now hopes Arsenal can "push on" after getting back to winning ways against QPR.
Wilshere last played a competitive first-team game for the Gunners in May 2011 and was forced to sit out the whole of last season because of niggling ankle and knee problems, which also dashed any hopes of featuring for England at Euro 2012 or representing Team GB at the London Olympics.
The 20-year-old came through more than an hour of Saturday's battling 1-0 win over QPR, which was secured by a late goal from Mikel Arteta after full-back Stephane Mbia had been shown a straight red card for kicking out at Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen.
Wilshere was relieved to be finally playing again, having only been told he would start by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger yesterday morning.
"There are some days when you came into the physio room and the lads were going out, you just do not want to be there because after 10 or 11 months it gets to you," Wilshere said.
"I am happy to be back now, so hopefully we can push on."
Wilshere accepts it will take a while for him to be firing on all cylinders, and could now be rested for next week's Capital One Cup tie at Reading with Arsenal away to Manchester United on Saturday.
"This is my first long-term injury, so I am not really used to it. After 60 minutes, my legs were going, so maybe next time after 70 or 80 then so on," he added on BBC Sport.
Wilshere had to deal with plenty of robust challenges from a hard-working QPR midfield of Samba Diakite and Esteban Granero, and the England international would not have it any other way.
"It is all part and parcel of football, there are going to be challenges on both of my ankles and my knees, it is part of my game and I am going to have to get used to it," he said.
Relief swept around Emirates Stadium as Arteta bundled the ball home when inspired QPR keeper Julio Cesar was finally beaten six minutes from time, albeit from what looked an offside position.
QPR, though, still had time to mount a couple of counter-attacks, with substitute Jamie Mackie waltzing his way through the Arsenal defence only to see his shot blocked at the near post by keeper Vito Mannone.
Wenger felt his side's desperation to secure a victory following the disappointments of defeat at Norwich and Schalke - which led to a heated atmosphere at the annual general meeting on Thursday - was behind their late lapse in concentration.
"It was psychological. You could see that as soon as we scored we just wanted to protect the result and we were 11 against 10," he said.
"If the team is full of confidence maybe we give a chance away, but we would continue to flow forward. However, here we just wanted to protect the result - it shows you how quickly the confidence goes in the team."
For QPR manager Mark Hughes, it was another negative return from a performance of great industry.
The Hoops remain bottom of the table on just three points, but not yet cut adrift.
Hughes remains confident things can turn around with matches coming up against fellow strugglers Reading and Southampton.
"We are building in terms of performances. The guys are getting used to playing together. We are looking for continuity," said Hughes, who berated referee Anthony Taylor and his officials for not ruling out Arteta's late winner.
"In terms of preparations for games I wouldn't question what we are doing. We just need to cut out the individual errors at key stages.
"We have played nine games, the majority against teams in the top 10.
"We have got a run of games coming up that hopefully will allow us to get maximum points."
Hughes added: "We weren't expected to win at Arsenal, but we have had a real go and given a good account of ourselves, so we will draw belief from that."