Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan has lamented the loss of "a whole year" of his football career, pointing out that he could have become a world champion had it not been for his injury nightmare.
The Germany international aggravated a back problem in a friendly against Paraguay last August and suffered a succession of setbacks during his rehabilitation, ultimately ruling him out of his country's triumphant Brazil 2014 campaign.
"I would have been there and now I would have been world champion," Gundogan told Welt am Sonntag.
"I missed this great tournament and that's not a nice feeling. I've lost a whole year."
Gundogan added, though, that while he was enforced to endure numerous dark days during his recovery, he is now feeling like his old self again as he nears his return to full fitness.
"I just didn't want to go out of the house," the 23-year-old said of his spell on the sidelines.
"My thoughts revolved around when I would be able to be fit again. I couldn't enjoy anything else in life.
"But I've not been as happy as I am now in a long time. It's fantastic to be able to train with the team again, even if I'm only restricted to running exercises."