The 30-year-old sustained a fractured tibia in the Club World Cup last December, which ruled him out for the rest of the domestic season and Spain's Euro 2012 campaign.
However, he returned to full training a fortnight ago and made the first appearance since his setback in the 2-0 victory over Dinamo Bucharest on Saturday.
"It's a very happy day, I feel like a footballer again," Villa told reporters after the match.
"You have to be patient, I have taken a big step but it is very clear that I still have long way to go.
"The goal is getting back the highest level, but I do not know when I can reach it. I wish it were sooner, but I insist that I must have patience."
Villa did reveal that he originally found it difficult to come to terms with his injury, but is keen nonetheless to put the past behind him and concentrate on re-establishing himself.
"Mentally I have every confidence [in myself]. I only think about the present and the future, not the past," he added.
"It was hard and long, more than I expected, perhaps because I have never had such a severe injury."