Manchester United star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has revealed his knee injury was worse than previously known, saying people would be shocked by his return to the field if they knew the full extent of the problem.
The Swedish striker made his first appearance since April after coming off the bench in his side's 4-1 Premier League thrashing of Newcastle United on Saturday.
"If people knew the real injury, they would be in shock that I was even playing. It was more than the knee but I will keep it personal — that's why I choose not to talk of it," he told UK newspapers.
"In my recovery I have not rushed anything. I have been out for six-and-a-half months. I have been following protocol and my schedule day by day.
"The only secret has been working hard. Those close to me know what I have been doing. I was working five, six hours a day."
"Now I just have to give back, and that's what I will do." @Ibra_official on repaying the support shown to him during his injury. #MUFC pic.twitter.com/IrrcbWg5ES — Manchester United (@ManUtd) November 18, 2017
Ibrahimovic scored 28 goals in all competitions for United last season before being released, only to sign a new one-year deal in August.
The 36-year-old veteran may be out of contract again at season's end, but he is unconcerned about his future.
"At the moment I am just thankful I can run and push it and play football again," Ibrahimovic said.
"I don't know what the future brings but what happens, happens. I am at the age where I can choose what I want to do.
"I don't sign five- or 10-year deals, I am just happy to be back playing and doing what I am good at.
"It's fantastic to be playing. Jose [Mourinho, United manager] said, 'Do whatever you want, I trust in you and you know what you have to do', so I was not worried.
"The contract is all paperwork and I do the physical work."