ZOLTAN Gera insists thoughts of hanging up his boots after a second serious knee injury in just over a year have never crossed his mind - and he is determined to return with one of his trademark somersault goal celebrations on his comeback.
The 33-year-old has begun the road to recovery after undergoing surgery last month on the anterior cruciate ligament he damaged in his left knee, in the Baggies’ FA Cup clash at QPR.
And he is in a positive frame of mind, especially after messages of support from notable names like England boss Roy Hodgson, as he targets a pre-season return to action.
“When I got injured I thought it was a bad time, partly because of my age, but because I had another operation a year ago,” said Gera.
“I was down about that but after I left the dressing room on the day it happened I just thought about coming back strongly.
“If I stop football now then I'll feel good because I played for nine years in England - but it's nothing I worry about.
“I feel happy with how I've done.
“I keep positive because I want to play football and I love football - I want to play as long as I can.
“I could retire happy - but I don't intend to.
“I say thanks to God for everything he's done for me - for what I've achieved in football I'm quite happy.
“Now is a little bit frustrating for me because when I came back here I was injured, I played a few games and was injured again, so the whole year was gone - and again now, it’s the same.
“It is a bit frustrating because I was happy to come back and the club gave me lots of support.
“And I want to give back what the club and the supporters have given me. For me that’s a target.
“I will do a somersault again when I come back – it’s another target.
“I need to do a somersault because some people say I’m too old to do it!"
He added: “I would love to get back for pre-season, as I did last year.
“Last pre-season was very good, so hopefully I will be back for pre-season.
“If not, that’s okay. I don’t mind.
“I just want to be fit and strong because that’s the most important thing.
“I don’t want to rush.
“I don’t want to push myself just because I want a new contract or want to start pre-season.
“The most important thing is to get ready, be strong with my knee and make sure everything is fine, and when the time comes to start training I will do it.
“I'm starting to work with the physio now.
“I've done a bit before and I've been in every day.
“We need to start to do some more movement on the knee, build the muscle.
“I have to wear a leg brace for six weeks and then I can take it off and do more work in the gym on the muscles.
“It's exactly the same as last time.”
And the 77-times capped Hungary skipper has also set his sights on returning to international duty, knowing he has the full support of his national coach.
“It’s always good to hear when people around you give you lots of support and trust you to be back,” said Gera.
“That’s a big plus for a player.
“Everyone has supported me.
“The national team coach called me straight afterwards and he said he was sure I would come back strongly.
“And they are waiting for me back in the national team, which is a big plus for a player.
“People close to me know me and they know I can come back.
“I had lots of support from Hungary, here at the club and from everyone.
“They have been so positive and gave me loads of support, so that makes me feel much better.
“Roy sent his regards after I got injured.
“It was nice of him to leave me a message on my voicemail as I was unable to take his call at the time.
“He said lots of good things and it’s a good feeling if the England national coach gives you his support.
“He is always a gentleman.”
And Gera admits his form after coming back from his original knee injury will spur him on to get back playing as soon as possible.
He has made 18 appearances for the Baggies this term, with his strikes against Liverpool, QPR, Sunderland and Norwich all helping to secure Barclays Premier League wins.
“You never know why it happens to you," he added.
“I did everything right on my rehab.
“For six months while I played I felt good, had no problems and then this happened again.
“But those six months were good for me.
“I played well, I was in the team, and I feel I can still play football at a high level.
“If those six months hadn't gone well, or I hadn't felt right, maybe then I might have felt different and that I won't push this and that maybe I need to stop football.
“But I never felt that - I always felt good.”