Christian Atsu reveals how he powered through the pain to keep Newcastle in the Premier League
Christian Atsu has lifted the lid on his battle against a long-term knee injury - and has vowed to come back even better.
The former Chelsea winger made 29 appearances as Rafa Benitez's side secured Premier League safety, but he had to do so while playing through the pain.
Atsu has revealed his struggles with a long-term knee injury which had plagued his career for the last three years.
But the Ghanaian was desperate to play through the pain last season and help ensure that Newcastle regained their place in the top flight.
With that now secured, Atsu is keen to push on and put in even better displays next season.
The wideman missed Newcastle's final six games of the season as he underwent surgery, but he refused to go under the knife until he knew he would be playing Premier League football next season.
Speaking to nufc.co.uk, he said: "I thought to myself, we came to the Premier League to stay there and I kept playing through the pain. I cannot leave my colleagues suffering like that so I have to at least try.
"What I thought in my mind is that I want the team to be secured in the Premier League and then I will have time to do the recovery.
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"I cannot do the recovery thinking of playing in the Championship, I have to make sure I do everything for the team."
The winger has been dealing with the problem for three years and felt that the time was right to finally put an end to the issues.
Atsu received the surgery three weeks ago and is now focusing on his recovery work as he aims to come back even better.
"I've had it for three years now and I've been playing with it, but I thought to myself that this was the right time to solve this problem.
"I want to be better when I'm playing and to also play pain free so I'm very happy that, at last, I have the opportunity and the chance to solve it.
"It's been three weeks now since I had my surgery and I've been working on my recovery work.
"I've been doing gym work and I think I'm feeling better and getting stronger each and every day."