Central Coast’s Storm Roux hadn’t played a competitive 90-minute game since breaking his leg in February prior to Saturday’s clash with Sydney FC.
The 23-year-old right-back returned to action with 75 minutes in round one in the 3-3 draw with Perth Glory, before putting in a full shift against the Sky Blues.
The New Zealand international had fractured his fibula and damaged ligaments in his leg against Melbourne City in February.
Roux said the injury had made him more appreciative and stronger mentally.
“It makes you realize how lucky you are to be playing football and to never take it for granted,” Roux said.
“Out for five months without touching a ball, it’s hard to do.
“I definitely think it’s made me stronger as a person coming back from that.
“I just want to put it all behind me now.”
South-Africa born Roux, who grew up in Perth, admitted it was frustrating watching from the sidelines as Central Coast broke records in finishing last in 2015/16.
“It is frustrating,” Roux said. “All you want to do is play football and it’s one of those things which comes with football.
“You get injured and you have to put in the hard work. You have to get yourself right to be out there with the boys.
“I just looked at that every day I was getting closer to being out there and playing and that helped me get through it.”
Roux will make his first home appearance since returning when the Mariners host Brisbane Roar on Saturday.
“One thing I was looking forward to was a home game,” he said.
“I can go out there and show my appreciation to the fans that helped me get through it.
“All the support and messages I received really helped me get through those lonely rehab sessions and gym sessions. I’m very thankful.”