Liam Rosenior said there were times during his six-month injury lay-off when he questioned whether he would come back to play again.
The 32-year-old full-back fractured an ankle and suffered ligament damage in a tackle by Reading striker Yann Kermorgant in August and then spent ten weeks on crutches. He played a few under-23 games, before making his return to first-team action on Saturday when Albion lost 3-0 at Nottingham Forest.
He is now relishing the rest of the season, with the Seagulls looking to seal promotion into the Premier League, but said: "It was the worst injury I've had and it was the most difficult time. There were times when I questioned if I was going to come back.
"I was going out to train and I was nowhere near where I wanted to be. That's why it's taken so long, getting used to my movements. It was a bad injury, when other people say you might not be able to come back or get back to do what you love, that really tests you.
"Coming in, even on a Friday when the lads are going away to travel to an away game - and I've got to drive home when I just want to travel with them and be part of it - it really is a mental challenge.
"It was one I haven't faced in my career. I've been fortunate enough not to have a serious injury and this was only six months.
"There's players who have been unfortunate to be out for 12 or 18 months and they've come back and been stronger, so my level of respect for players that have had serious injuries has gone through the roof from this experience.
“There were times during my rehab where the physios were telling me ‘it’s a really serious injury and you might not come back the same’. It’s a physical battle but it’s also a mental battle to keep believing that you can get back. Saturday was a huge stepping stone for me because I know I can do it now.
“Even before the game on Saturday I didn’t know whether I was able to play at the same level, but I got stronger as the game went on and that leaves me in a really good place mentally.
“I can now kick on for the rest of the season and get back to what I do best."
Rosenior originally thought he would be out for three or four months, so was frustrated it took him six months to get back but said: "It was difficult but I'm here now and I'm happy. I'm looking forward to every game for the rest of my career again and I won't take it for granted."
In the build-up to his return on Saturday, Rosenior said: "I was so excited. I was nervous to a certain extent, just in terms of 'am I going to be able to perform?'. After the first 20 minutes, I got stronger as the game went on and I'm in such a good place now.
"I'm so happy and looking forward to helping the team get over the line."
On how he felt after the game, he said: "I'm better than what I thought I would be. You see the facilities here, the staff we have, the equipment, everything, you have to take that and use it.
"I was a bit boring yesterday, the poor kids were stuck inside and I was sleeping for four hours so I've got to make it up to them at some point but I'm trying to do everything right, so that I'm available to play and perform to a high level."
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, Rosenior said: "We're in a great position, we're averaging more than two points a game which if you stay on that target, you're almost guaranteed promotion.
"It's about staying the course but not getting too high when you win and not getting too low when you lose. This time last week, people were talking about Newcastle and maybe they'd lost their form and they could fall out of the top two and after two games, all of a sudden they're going to walk away with the league.
"That's football. Now we've lost two games, everybody is going to be asking the same questions about us. This league is not like the Premier League, the Premier League is 38 games, this is 46 games, so eight more games.
"You have to stay the course and if you do, and overcome the set-backs, you're able to get to where you want to be."
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