England hero Michael Owen says he never doubted he'd get back to his best.
The Newcastle United striker said: "I never doubted I'd be back. I went to the best surgeon in the world (Dr Richard Steadman). I had the best rehab you could ever hope for.
"Between my ears was the willpower and a strong mind to come back better than ever and I don't think anyone can say I've come back worse than when I left the scene."
Owen is still only 27 and what excites him as much, if not more, than any individual records is the prospect of England finally showing they can be a major force based on the evidence of the last two games.
He said: "I'm hoping my best years at international level are still ahead of me. I've still got quite a long time before I start falling away. I'm only 27 so hopefully there are good times ahead with England.
"That's got to be the plan because there is a good group of players. We knew that despite what anyone said. We know we are a good group of players.
"It's been difficult proving that. We've been proving it far too infrequently really but these two games with Israel and Russia have been encouraging.
"If we can keep progressing like that, then I believe that we're onto a good thing."