Malaga striker Julio Baptista says he will never give up in his fight to return from injury after 12 months on the sidelines.
The Brazilian joined the Costa del Sol club in January 2011 but has played just 15 games since then after suffering a succession of injuries, including the Achilles heel problem that is currently keeping him out alongside foot and calf problems.
Nonetheless, in an interview with Marca, the former Sevilla, Real Madrid and Arsenal man insists he will not throw in the towel and believes he getting ever closer to a comeback.
“I’ve had a very difficult time but I’m strong mentally. We are in the final straight and it’s been bad all the time I’ve been out injured, seeing my teammates play and not being able to help.
“I really want to be one of the team and everyone asks me when that will be. I have to go by what the doctor says and he reckons around four to five months, but I don’t know if that could be four-and-a-half. His intention is that I’m back before the end of the year.”
Baptista told how he has worked extremely hard every day and the toll it has taken on his family.
“It’s gone in phases and I’ve worked hard on the pitch, in the swimming pool and on the beach. We do two or three hours in the morning and the same in the afternoon. It’s tiring but it is what it is.
“The worst is being on your own, but it doesn’t matter because my family have given me strength. They are the ones who have suffered most because they are with me every day. It’s very hard for them as I’m hardly at home.”
Having undergone one setback after another during the last year, Baptista is adamant quitting the game was something he has never thought about.
“The mental issue is very important. If you give up then your mind tells you that you will not overcome anything.
“When you have so much passion for something you don’t think about it and it has never entered my head to quit football. I thought that over time I’d always come back.
“With the weight I was putting on I knew that it would be tough and that I’d have to do what the rest of the players were doing, but to a greater degree.
“After the operation was the hardest because you just want to be alone as you are in pain, but you are depending on a lot of people.”
Despite his year out, Baptista admits that other clubs have asked about him in the meantime, yet he maintains he has no thoughts of leaving Malaga.
“For me it’s a compliment but I’ve never considered leaving Malaga. I think my background and professionalism has made people notice me.
“Clubs know that even if I’m injured I’ll always give my best and will be back, but my aim is to fulfil my contract with Malaga. I want to show I deserve to be here and when I come back I want to remain here,” explained Baptista, who still harbours hopes of representing Brazil in the 2014 World Cup in his native country.
“If I do well here then I can make the Brazilian national side. Some think that if you are playing in Brazil it makes selection easier, but I’m happy here. I prefer to remain here and do a good job.
“Of course, everyone is thinking of the World Cup. We all have our dreams and to go back for it would be fantastic. Everything is against me but I’m not afraid and will work hard, so if I get the opportunity then great. If not, no problem,” added the 31-year-old.