Ki Sung-yueng’s keen to make up for lost time at Newcastle United – after missing more than two months of the club’s season.
Ki made his comeback from injury at St James’s Park last weekend.
The midfielder – who suffered a hamstring while away with South Korea for the Asian Cup in January – played his part in Newcastle’s 3-2 win over Everton.
Ki was handed a start after Sean Longstaff was ruled out for the rest of the season.
And the 30-year-old – who has now retired from international football – loved being back on the field at St James’s Park.
The result moved the club up to 13th in the Premier League table ahead of tomorrow’s game against Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium.
I was very frustrated, especially when I got injured in the Asian Cup in the first game, which I never expected.Ki Sung-yueng
“It was a very long time,” said Ki, who topped up his fitness in last month’s friendly against Moscow in Spain. “I was injured in January. For me, it was two months.
“I played 45 minutes against Moscow, but this was a proper league game. Of course, I was not 100% match fit, but I tried to give everything on the pitch.
“Hopefully, my form will be better and better and better as I play more games. I was just very pleased that we won.”
Ki picked up a hamstring injury in South Korea’s first fixture at the Asian Cup in the United Arab Emirates – and then aggravated it in training.
He was sent back to England after being ruled out of the rest of the tournament, which was won by Qatar.
“I was very frustrated, especially when I got injured in the Asian Cup in the first game, which I never expected,” said Ki, signed on a free transfer last summer following his release from Swansea City.
“It was very disappointing, but this is life. In football, you can have injuries, and sometimes you have to wait for your chance to play.
“This is football life. I just waited, recovered well and tried to be in the team. I worked as hard as I could on the training ground.
“I’m very pleased that we won and hopefully myself and the team will be better and better.”
United came from two goals down to beat Everton on a dramatic and eventful afternoon at St James’s Park.
Salomon Rondon got Newcastle back in the game with a 65th-minute strike.
And Ayoze Perez netted two late goals to claim all three points for Rafa Benitez’s side.
“Maybe our desire to win the game was better in the second half,” said Ki. “Even though we conceded two goals in the first half, we never gave up.
“We scored three goals in the second half. It was not easy to do it.
“Everyone was very pleased. We just keep going for the next game against Bournemouth.”
Asked what manager Benitez told his players at the break, Ki said: “The gaffer said to us if we score one goal, and make it 2-1, the pressure will go to them.
“We all agreed that we would have possibilities to score in the second half, and as soon as we scored the first one, everyone believed that we could make it.
“At the end we scored two more goals. I think the second half was more calm. We didn’t think about the result.
“Everyone just focused on scoring the first goal, and after that everything came to us.”
Referee Lee Mason’s failure to send off former Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for a foul on Salomon Rondon brought St James’s Park to life in the first half.
And Newcastle fans roared their team on after the break.
Former United striker Alan Shearer tweeted after the game that he “hadn’t heard St James’s Park like that for a while”, and Ki has hailed the “passion” of the club’s support.
“It was amazing with all the passion from the supporters,” said Ki.
“All this support from the fans was amazing. Everton had a lot of pressure from the fans, especially after we scored the first one. The fans believed it as well, that we could get something from this game. It helped a lot.
“Hopefully, they’ll always be behind us.”
Newcastle are now six points clear of the relegation zone with eight games left to play.
“We still have to go over the line,” said Ki. “It’s not finished yet. We have a lot of positives. We lost at West Ham, but everyone still believed we could be better than this position in the Premier League.
“There are eight games to go, and we give everything each game, and then see how it goes.”