Johannesburg - May Mahlangu says he took inspiration from the unlikely combination of Diego Maradona and Morgan Gould to get himself through a bleak six months sidelined with serious injury.
According to the supersport.com website, the 23-year-old Mahlangu snapped his Achilles tendon in a freak training ground incident last July and saw his bright career overseas, and with Bafana Bafana, blunted for what looks to be an effective nine months on the treatment table.
Maradona had also suffered a similar setback and Mahlangu read up on the internet about his recovery.
“He came back from injury and went on to win the World Cup, so I knew I’d have a chance.”
Mahlangu also spoke to Kaizer Chiefs defender Gould, who suffered a similar injury at length, and drew inspiration from him.
“If he could get back at his age I knew I could comeback too,” said the tricky midfielder, just one day after signing a one year contract with Swedish club IFK Gothenburg, which signals his imminent return to action.
“I never had a serious injury in 15 years of playing the game since I was a little boy and almost eight years as a professional.
"If you never have experienced it before it is difficult but I found that being out for so long made me stronger too.
"It shows your character and it has made me appreciate also what the game has given me,” said Mahlangu, who spent much of his time off at home in Secunda or with the physio in Johannesburg.
The Bafana midfielder is set to make his comeback next month, missing just a handful of the first matches of the new Swedish season for his new club.
He admitted the brief length of his contract suggested he was keen to move onto a higher profile league in Europe in the January transfer window.
“That’s true but at the moment I must focus on my one year at IFK.
"I will seek to do well for team as well as myself. Hopefully I can also get back into in the Bafana squad.”
As part of his rehabilitation, Mahlangu was invited to train with the national squad in January when they were in Cape Town for the Chan-2014 tournament.
“I want to thank Gordon Igesund for the invite and the opportunity that really helped with my recovery,” he added in a telephone interview from Sweden, where he previously won the league title at Djurgardens.