Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Kaka, who returned to action on Monday for the first time since he underwent knee surgery in August, says he feared he would never be able to play again.
"I am very happy for playing a game again and for stepping onto a pitch. Coming back with a victory is the best thing that could have happened to me," he said in comments published Tuesday on the club's website. "At times, I was afraid when I thought about when I was going to come back, or if I ever would. I must now earn a spot because the team is in great form. Competition is always good for the team," he added.
Real's Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho sent Kaka, the winner of the 2007 Ballon d'Or, on the pitch in the 75th minute of Real's 3-2 Spanish league win at Getafe on Monday. He had not featured in a match since 2 July when the Netherlands beat Brazil 2-1 in the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals in South Africa.
The 28-year-old underwent surgery in August after injuring his left knee and only returned to training with the squad on 18 December. "I have had some tough times and the things I have missed the most are the team get-togethers, training with my teammates, being with them in the dressing room, playing before our supporters," said Kaka. "I lacked the joy I get from playing. I'm available now and I will do my best to play with joy again."
Prior to his injury Kaka had struggled to shine due to a combination of injuries and poor form. He joined Real from AC Milan for around €65 million in June 2009, shortly before the arrival of Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
Kaka's hopes of reclaiming a first-team place have been hit by the arrival of 22-year-old playmaker Mesut Ozil, who joined Real from Werder Bremen last summer after starring for Germany at the World Cup finals in South Africa.