A week is a long time in football and 113 of them equal Jack Trengove’s triumph.
The Melbourne onballer will finally return in Saturday’s match against Hawthorn at the MCG, 797 days after his last AFL match.
Video on the club website showed the popular Demon’s teammates erupting in applause at Thursday training when captain Nathan Jones confirmed the news.
He last played for Melbourne in round two, 2014.
Trengove had a navicular bone fracture – an injury that is notoriously-hard to fix and one that has killed several AFL careers.
Melbourne looked at trading him to Richmond at the end of the 2014 season, but that fell through when a routine medical examination showed the injury had flared again.
It meant more surgery and at the time, Trengove’s 81-game career looked over.
The former Demons co-captain said the support of family, friends and the club had helped him through.
“There’s no doubt there were moments when you doubt yourself and I think it’s only natural to have those feelings – especially when I went down with it for the second time,” he said.
“There were some dark days in the gym by yourself, thinking `what the hell are you doing?’.
“But it’s all the worthwhile once you get back out there and start playing again.”
Trengove said it was difficult to describe how he would feel, but considered it might be like a second debut.
“I couldn’t be more excited and pumped for it,” he said.
“Ever since I got the first injury and went out with surgery, the dream has always been to get back and play AFL footy.
“Now that’s finally going to come true on Saturday, but at the same point in time, I want it to be the start of a big journey again at Melbourne.
“It’s going to be hard to wipe my smile off the face for the next few days.”
Trengove proved his fitness with nearly two months in the VFL.
“He comes in, in really, really good form and I’m pretty excited about seeing him play,” coach Paul Roos told the club’s website.
“There were times when I’m sure he wouldn’t have thought he’d play again and the medical staff and coaches were uncertain even if they were optimistic – but you never want to get pessimistic with things like that.
“He’s such a high quality person and to go through what he’s gone through I haven’t seen him down or not smiling. He’s impacted the club positively over the last couple of years and he’s been unbelievable really.”
Trengove comes in for Jack Viney, who will spend a month on the sidelines after undergoing surgery on a broken knuckle.