Great Britain captain Dai Greene insisted he always believed he would return after his injury nightmare.
The 32-year-old – back in a GB vest at this week’s European Championships for the first time since 2013 after a series of injury problems – starts his 400 metres hurdles campaign in the heats on Monday.
Greene, the 2011 world champion, was named skipper by the 101-strong squad ahead of the continental event in Berlin.
He had been hampered by groin, hernia and hamstring problems which forced him to miss the 2014 European Championships, the Rio Olympics in 2016 and April’s Commonwealth Games for Wales.
He said: “You can’t assume it’s all said and done. You always remember the good things and you don’t believe you are as injured as you are. I just thought I was going to get back eventually, I just had to grind it out.
“It doesn’t feel I’ve been out of the team for that long, it’s not as if I’ve been sitting on my backside, I’ve been trying and grinding and falling at the last.
“In terms of competing at a higher level I’ve always found I’ve warmed to that environment.
“I’m excited, when you’ve had bad times it’s the sensation of being at the start line of championships which is the big draw. You can compete all season at the grands prix but they don’t really mean anything.
Greene will need to deliver a speech as captain and admits it will take a more reflective tone.
He said: “When I’ve heard other athletes in the past I’ve always heard personal stories to make you realise everyone is the same.
“I’ll try to keep it light-hearted to start off but then get over a serious message of what I’ve been up to in the last few years and what I’ve gone through to shine a light on it.
“The message usually is everyone has earned the right to be here but to make the most of it because you know it’s pretty fragile.”
The 100m qualifiers also kick off the Championships on Monday afternoon with the top 12 in Europe getting byes to the semi finals, meaning Zharnel Hughes, Dina Asher-Smith, CJ Ujah and Reece Prescod compete in Tuesday’s semi-finals.
Daryll Neita will run in the 100m aiming to progress to Tuesday.