West Ham winger's nightmare year ends in joy with first goal
PUBLISHED: 14:30 04 September 2019
PA Wire/PA Images
Hammer Yarmolenko making the long journey back to full fitness
It was almost a year ago that West Ham winger Andriy Yarmolenko showed his credentials with a superb two-goal performance in a win at Everton.
But an Achilles injury struck soon afterwards and the Ukraine international has been recovering ever since.
So it was little wonder that after all the hours of rehabilitation, all the time on the sidelines, when Yarmolenko struck to make it 2-0 against Norwich City on Saturday, he headed straight to thank the medical team.
He appeared on the right wing and found Mark Noble and when his pass deflected up in the air, it was Yarmolenko who reacted quickest to volley home.
"It was an amazing day for me and I am really happy. I just want to say thank you to everyone at West Ham because they worked with me a lot and we were just waiting for this day," said the 29-year-old.
"It was really difficult to stay positive. I was out for 10 months but they really helped me, not just working in the gym, but talking to me, telling me to concentrate on my recovery and telling me to wait for this moment."
It must have been tough for Yarmolenko.
In a foreign country and finally able to show what he could do, that was taken from him and he became the forgotten man of the squad.
But after playing for 71 minutes against Norwich and also hitting the post, he added: "I never thought I would not return. I just concentrated on my recovery and I knew one day I would be back.
"We played well. We must now keep working, and improving. We have a lot of good players and I think we can finish in the top six."
Understandably, it has not gone that smoothly since his return to the team and some were suggesting he should be left out of the Norwich game.
But Manuel Pellegrini kept faith with the wide man and he repaid that with an exuberant and more positive performance against the Canaries.
Just as last season, the £17.5million man took time to settle into the team and now he is looking to bounce back completely.
"For me it's really important," he said.
"Some of the Ukrainian people have forgotten me, but I just want to say I am here and there is still life left in me."
Yarmolenko could be a vital part of the squad if he can stay fit as he offers something different to the team. So how high does he think the Hammers can go in this campaign?
"Of course the top six is realistic," he said. "We have a lot of good players, good staff and good coaches, so why not?"
If Yarmolenko continues to improve, then why not? There may be some hiccups along the way, but hopefully he is back.