Mike Williamson said that days like Saturday “make it all worthwhile” as he marked his comeback after 14 months out with a superb performance to help Wolves upset Stoke in the Emirates FA Cup.
The 33-year-old boasts extensive experience at the top level of the game, but even he admits he was nervous to be coming back after a troublesome tendon injury which eventually needed surgery.
He needn’t have worried, picking up from where he left off in his last senior games, when helping Wolves to three clean sheets out of five during a loan spell towards the end of 2015.
“It has been a long time and days like this make it all worthwhile,” said Williamson.
“I have had some tough days in the gym, some long days, but it is all about getting back for games like this.
“You keep thoughts of days like this at the forefront of your mind as you are coming back and it helps you to keep working.
“The gaffer had said in the week for me to get ready so I was mentally preparing.
“We did some team shape on Thursday, he asked me if I was ready and I said, yes – 100 per cent!
“I did feel a little bit nervous, and to be honest I’d be worried if I wasn’t nervous because that would mean I was on the back foot.
“We have got a good squad of players now and this was a fantastic result.”
Williamson said Wolves revelled in the big game atmosphere generated by both sets of fans during the 2-0 victory, and says a good start to the game was always going to be imperative.
“There is a good crowd here and a passionate crowd,” he said.
“We brought a good following as well and the first 15 to 20 minutes was about keeping it tight and making sure there were no mistakes.
“We started really brightly and got ourselves on the front foot.
“Our fans were fantastic all afternoon.
“When we went out to warm up they were right behind us.
“It is nice to be able to give them something back.
“As a playereveryone thrives on occasions such as this – everyone wants to make a statement.
“The lads had been fantastic in the last game at Sheffield Wednesday and standards are high now.
“The boys coming in know what sort of performances they need to put in to try and give the gaffer a headache.
“The pressure came in the second half but their fans would have demanded that and their manager who has fantastic experience.
“It was about staying calm out on the pitch and making sure we were able to ride it out.
“We had to stay tight and feel we could go up and get the second goal and that is what we did.
“You need a bit of luck when you come away to take on a Premier League side.
“And Carl was fantastic in goal making some unbelievable saves.
“Everyone did their job, everyone was putting bodies on the line.
“We were out there fighting tooth and nail – that is what the gaffer demands and that is what the boys did.”
At the other end of the age and experience scale was Morgan Gibbs-White, who came off the bench to make his Wolves debut just under three weeks before his 17th birthday.
“Morgan was fantastic,” said Williamson.
“He has been showing that in training, and is one of quite a few very good young players here.
“The gaffer is not frightened to put them in and give them a chance - it is an exciting team.”
For Williamson now it is all about Wolves building on the performance from Saturday, and keeping things going over the coming weeks.
“A win like this builds some momentum,” he said.
“That is what the gaffer wants and everyone will be optimistic going into the next game.
“It is about building on this and moving up the league.
“This can’t be a one-off because if it is a one-off it means nothing.
“It is about giving a foundation to build on and taking that same passion, spirit and drive into the big derby next week.”