Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi insists he will still be the same player when he eventually returns from long-term injury.
The Italian-American suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage to his right knee in a game against Real Madrid 12 months ago and was initially ruled out for six months.
However, he reinjured the knee in training in April of this year and is now due to undergo a second operation on Wednesday at Doctor Richard Steadman’s renowned clinic in Vail, Colorado in his bid to get back playing.
In an interview with Villarreal’s official programme, Rossi says he is grateful for the support he has received over the past year and talked about his great desire to return to the pitch.
“I’m told the Villarreal fans sing my name in the 22nd minute [his shirt number] and the truth is that it touches my heart. It’s very nice and I can only say thanks for all the support they have given me and are still giving me every day.
“I don’t know when I’ll be back as I’ll have to see what they say about my knee. The most important thing will be to continue playing without any discomfort and bring some joy to the supporters.
“I’m going to be the player I was. This is just a stumbling block to overcome but I’m strong mentally and I hope to return soon,” said a defiant Rossi.
The 25-year-old acknowledges he is not a good spectator and is eager to get back because football means everything to him.
“I’m still young and I’ve got much more to give in football. I want to recover 100 per cent and have no problems, because the game is my life.
“I suffer watching matches on television and I suffer watching Villarreal because I want to be out there fighting for the team, scoring goals and winning games, but for that to happen I first have to complete my recovery.
“It’s impossible to get used to watching games on TV and I want to be back.”
According to Rossi, he now faces a vital stage in his recovery process.
“It’s a key moment for me because it’s the second operation. I want to be out there on the pitch and now it all starts again for me.
“It’s been a very lengthy injury and to be honest the time has gone really slowly, but it’s what I expected and I have to be calm about it, be positive, so I can prepare myself for what is to come in the next six months.
“I’m now more or less halfway through the recovery process but the past is the past. I don’t want to think of what has gone before but of the future and getting back playing again as soon as possible.
“I prefer to think about working hard and counting down the days until my return. Every day is a day less until I’m back on the pitch.”
The Yellow Submarine suffered the blow of relegation in Rossi’s absence and he admits it has not been easy to follow the club’s progress during his time in the United States, but he says he is happy with the team.
“I follow the team on the internet because here they don’t show games from La Segunda. It’s vitally important we get back in La Primera and I think so far we’ve done well in the opening seven games.
“The lads are doing well and so is the Coach. I can’t wait to get back.”
The Italian international also spoke about how his life has been going on the road to recovery and says his family have been a pillar of strength for him.
“I’ve not spent so much time in the United States since I was 12 and it’s been like being reunited with many things from my childhood as I’ve had time with friends and family.
“They are helping me a lot and I’ve even gone back to eating my grandmother’s food, but don’t worry as I’m looking after myself and I’m not too fat,” he joked.