His team-mates look genuinely thrilled to have the 30-year-old Ghanaian back in the ranks.
"When you have these injuries and I’ve had eight or nine operations on my knees, it’s hard," Essien told the Daily Mail. "I know injuries are part of the game but once you have them you have to relax your mind and work hard to come back.
"I never thought I should stop playing. It never crossed my mind. I just wanted to get back on the pitch. I go with the flow. I don’t put pressure on myself or anything. I just listen to the doctors and once I’m fit and training I give everything.
"My knees feel fine now. My knees are not giving me any problems. I just have to keep myself fit and get ready to do a good job for the team.
"My style hasn’t changed. I’m still the same. When you bump into me you can tell I am still as strong and keeping fit."