09:45 15th August 2013
And midfielder hopes he's seen back of medical men after penning new deal
ZOLTAN Gera has thanked the Albion medical team for helping him earn a new Albion deal – but hopes he has seen the back of them this season.
The 34-year-old midfielder yesterday put pen to paper on a one-year Hawthorns contract.
And he has targeted a return to first-team training on Monday week and Barclays Premier League action in early October after being sidelined since January by a second anterior cruciate ligament knee injury in successive seasons.
The Hungary captain celebrates his birthday in April and he admits he could never have dreamed of the prospect of playing top-flight football in England at the age of 35 when he first landed in the country in 2004.
“I’m very happy to sign a new deal,” said Gera, as he paid tribute to the club he has spent six years at in two spells.
“The second half of last season was frustrating and it is a good feeling to have the chance to get back playing again.
“It’s a great opportunity and I’m so happy here.
“I also wanted to stay here because over the course of my injuries everyone has supported me.
“Over the months the coaching staff and players have been encouraging me and, even though my contract expired, they all still treated me as a player who was staying here.
“It also meant a lot going out on the pre-season tour to Austria.
“So, I never worried or doubted I was staying here.
“The physios and doctor know me and what I need to do to get back fit.
“You can’t imagine better treatment than I’ve had here.
“I just want to play again and the main target for me is to go through the season with no injuries.
“The doctor and the physios have done a fantastic job for me over the months.
“But I don’t want to see them anymore in this season!
“Over the last four weeks I have worked very hard doing fitness work.
“I need another week and then I can get back training with the team.
“That’s a good feeling.
“Then I will need around another four weeks to get match fit and, if things go right, I will start to play.”
The former Fulham man insists age is no barrier to him - and he has not ruled out performing his trademark somersault celebration should he score.
“I don’t feel 34, I feel younger,” he added.
“But I definitely never thought I could be playing Premier League football at the age of 35.
“I thought when I came to England if I could play here until I was 30 that would be great.
“But I will be 35 when the season finishes and I’m still here, so that’s great for me, especially after the last two years with my injuries.
“For me to have a contract now is a bonus and I just want to give back what the club have given me over the last two years when they have supported me.
“The physio has told me no-more somersaults – but I have to do it again just to show I’m still young!”
Gera has also thanked the Albion fans for their support through what has been a difficult time for him.
And he is hoping he can repay them by linking up with the club’s new summer signings to make it another season to remember at The Hawthorns.
“The fans’ support has been unbelievable,” he said.
“If you’re feeling the love and support from your team-mates, the club and, especially the supporters, it gives you an extra motivation to get back and show yourself again by scoring goals for your club.
“That’s why I’ve worked hard for the last eight months to get back fit.
“And I’m sure when I get back playing I can do the same things as I did last season.
“The squad is better than last season.
“Romelu Lukaku is gone but we’ve signed Nico [Anelka] and that is a great signing for the club.
“I’m sure the supporters are so excited to see him playing for West Brom.
“The squad has stayed together, which is very important, and hopefully we can start the season as well as we did last season.”