Andre Gomes says he “pushed myself to the limit” to achieve a startling recovery from the serious injury the midfielder sustained in November – and the support he received from Everton during his period out was "spectacular".
Portuguese Gomes returned to action against Arsenal on Sunday, 112 days after suffering a fracture dislocation to his right ankle.
The 26-year-old, who figured for the first time under Carlo Ancelotti, admitted the feelings he experienced in the days before his comeback were “totally different” from anything he’s known in the past three-and-a-half months.
Gomes added to the feelgood factor around his comeback by delivering an immaculate performance – before turning his gaze towards having a big say in the remainder of Everton’s campaign.
Manager Ancelotti’s side suffered a first Premier League defeat in six games at Arsenal but they are only five points adrift of next opponents Manchester United in fifth.
“I did not count the days [I was out] or I’d have been down,” Gomes told evertontv.
“But I was missing this and pushed myself to the limit to be back as soon as possible.
“We did not set a time to be back, so I just tried to push to my limit.
“And I am glad to be here.
“I knew I was confident and wanted to play.
“The way the team got me involved in the game was really good and from the first minute I came on it was marvellous.
“It is my first time playing with the manager but we have been working together the past four weeks.
“I want to help the team to try to reach its goals and we are looking forwards.”
Gomes was making his seventh Premier League start after completing a permanent transfer from Barcelona last summer when he was hurt in a game against Tottenham Hotspur on 3 November.
The 26-year-old, who played 29 games in all competitions on loan from the Nou Camp in 2018/19, was back at the Club’s USM Finch Farm training facility to advance his rehabilitation scarcely two months after being injured.
He continued to make significant progress and seven days before featuring against Arsenal completed a 60-minutes behind-closed-doors practice match.
But it was the prospect of competitive football which really got Gomes’s juices flowing last week.
“Everything started during this week on my way back,” said Gomes.
“The feeling was totally different and I was missing this so it was really good to play 30 minutes and be back with the squad.
“The feeling is everything around it [preparing for a game and playing].
“I am quite competitive, I love to have this feeling so it was hard for me to be away from this team.
“I am really pleased to be back on the pitch and to help the team.
“It is not the result I expected but I am glad to be back.”
Gomes was greeted by a giant roar from the travelling Evertonians when he entered the field in north London – he received a generous ovation from the home fans, too – and the player’s focus now is on consistently performing in front of those supporters.
“I want to enjoy what I am doing,” added Gomes.
“It was a hard moment until yesterday [the day before playing against Arsenal].
“But I did my best to be back as soon as possible.
“And, again, I want to thank everybody.
“The Club was spectacular with me.
“All the fans, and football in general, supported me and gave me a warm welcome.
“The reception [from Evertonians] was unbelievable, I need to thank the supporters for that welcome – and all the people around me for the support they gave me.”