Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic admitted he has not been able to run for nearly two weeks but still helped his side to Premier League promotion in the play-off final.
Mitrovic’s side beat west London rivals Brentford 2-1 at Wembley, with both of Fulham’s goals coming when the Serbian forward was on the field.
The half-fit 25-year-old missed both legs of the play-off semi-final against Cardiff with a hamstring injury and it kept bothering him as he started the final from the bench before coming on in the second-half to help his team to victory.
Speaking about his injury to Sky Sports after the game, Mitrovic said: ‘It was really hard to be honest, I should not even be on the pitch.
‘I’m probably half way through my recovery and my hamstring’s still hurting. But we made the decision and sometimes in life you have to take a risk.
‘I’m really happy we took this risk and I’m happy for team and the manager. I think we deserved this.’
The Serbian has been one of Fulham’s key players this season, scoring 26 goals in their promotion season.
He would have been a guaranteed starter if he was fully fit but went into detail about the pain he has been feeling in the past couple of weeks.
Mitrovic added: ‘To be honest, I didn’t run for almost 13 days, no training at all, just gym.
‘I tried to walk three times a day and double my therapy just to get fit to the best I could.
‘I’m still not fit, I’m probably one week or 10 days from starting training normally. But this is unbelievable what we achieved today, I’m very happy for my team-mates, especially.
‘We worked so hard, it’s been a whole year since the season started in pre-season. It’s been a really long year.’
It’s a double cause for celebration for the striker, who picked up the Championship Golden Boot Award having been involved in a tussle at the top of the goalscoring charts with Brentford’s Ollie Watkins all season.
Mitrovic was keen to downplay the achievement though and was quick to reveal he was indebted to his team-mates for supplying the service to him.
On the Golden Boot Award, he said: ‘It’s about the team though. If the team plays well I score goals. This is a team that plays really well, the tactics we play really suit me.
‘If the team gives me the ball, I score goals. My Golden Boot means the team worked really well together with me.’
Now promotion has been achieved, the target for Fulham is to stay in the top-flight and right the wrongs of last season, which saw them relegated from England’s highest division.
Ahead of their Premier League return, the forward says Fulham need to rest and recover before they start planning further ahead.
Mitrovic said: ‘We’ve been here before, we’re here again. The feeling is amazing. Now a big season coming, for the whole of Fulham Football Club and for me as well.
‘We need to take a real rest, recover. But we should be proud, we’ve taken this club back to where it should be.’