Petr Cech is prepared for a long and frustrating winter as he sets out to rebuild a career which was almost ended by a horrific head injury.
Cech walked back into Chelsea's training ground this week with part of his head shaved and a long scar from his forehead to his left ear.
It was ten days after the goalkeeper's collision with Stephen Hunt at Reading and the emergency neuro-surgery to insert two metal plates in his head and repair a depressed fracture of his skull. Cech still managed to smile as he joked with his team-mates and spoke publicly for the first time about the injury.
He cannot remember anything about the controversial first-minute clash with Hunt but has been touched by the messages of support received from around the world.
Chelsea TV: First of all Petr, how are you?
Petr Cech: I am okay. I feel better and I am improving and I am happy to be here at the training ground to see the lads.
Your hair is beginning to grow back, but you have got a big scar, haven't you?
Yeah, because I don't have so much hair, I think everyone can see it, so I hope it is going to grow really quickly. But I am just happy that I am improving in all aspects.
How are you day-to-day, do you get headaches, do you feel sick?
Sometimes it is difficult because you wake up and you have a horrible headache so you have to take your medication and it is very strong. So it is not the best because afterwards you feel really tired really quickly. You want to walk and you want to watch the telly but after five, 10, 15 minutes you are really tired and you have to stop.
I am just trying to live with that and I hope that every day it is going to get better - and it is better because when I was able to go home, I felt better. When you are at home, your family is there, your wife is there, your dog is there and you have got so many visitors and so many cards that are wishing me a speedy recovery. As well as from the club, I got so many cards and letters from people outside the club, not involved in Chelsea - supporters of other teams, and so goalkeepers from international leagues. It was brilliant for me and I think this has given me energy. I feel that there are so many people behind me and wishing well and that is why I feel really relaxed now at home.
Who are some of the goalkeepers who have contacted you?
I've got letters from every goalkeeper at Portsmouth. I've got one from Ricardo who plays for Sporting Lisbon and Shay Given sent me a text message. It is brilliant as well because he is injured, he knows how it feels, and he sent me a message wishing me a speedy recovery, so I was very happy with that.
What is your schedule from now on?
I hope that everything will improve. I have got a medical meeting with Bryan English, the club doctor, and the medical department and they will give me my schedule, what I can do and hopefully start developing my muscles again. It will be really difficult because I can't move for a long time. So it will be difficult, even with the metal in your head, you still need some recovery. They will prepare some programme for me, massage, little walks, these kind of things so I start maintaining my body and I hope I will be able to get back as soon as I can.
Do you remember what happened at Reading?
I have tried to think about this and the last thing I remember is the shaking hands before the game started. I remember the warm-up, I remember all the way from the hotel to the stadium because usually I always take the programme and I read a little bit. I go around the pitch, I want to see what the pitch is looking like and I did. After that, I remember the warm-up with Silvinho, Carlo and Hilario. The last thing I remember is going out of the dressing room, ready with the kit. The fair-play handshake is the last thing I remember because JT (John Terry) lost the toss and I had to run to the other side of the pitch. I don't even remember the kick-off.
Have you seen the challenge again on the television?
I have seen it once and I was surprised in the way that I thought it happened on the other side of the head. So that just proves that I don't remember anything.
Hilario has been doing ok, hasn't he?
I am happy for him because when he came to Chelsea, everyone told him he would be the third choice goalkeeper. It is never easy to accept this role. Even so, he said he would work 100 per to do the best he can if he got the chance to play. His chance arrived and he did very well. He was under huge pressure against Barcelona as the whole world was watching him to see if he could rise to the challenge - and he did very well. After that, he was part of a winning side against and he kept a clean sheet at Blackburn on Wednesday, so I think we can be very happy with him.
Have you got a message for football fans around the world?
The message is that I say 'thank you' to everybody who supported me the whole time I was in hospital and I say 'thank you' for everyone who will support me on the way back. I will do my best to come back even stronger than before.