Croatia’s Ivan Strinic insists he never considered retiring from football despite a heart problem which has delayed his debut at Milan.
The 31-year-old moved a step closer to making his first appearance for the Rossoneri after doctors passed him fit to begin training with the club on Monday.
Strinic took an indefinite break from football after routine medical testing found he was suffering from a heart problem shortly after signing for Milan on a free transfer from Sampdoria.
His hiatus was used for tests on his condition while he rested in the aftermath of a World Cup in which he featured in all but one of runners-up Croatia’s matches.
But, despite the uncertainty over his health, Strinic says he never once thought about quitting football and is keen to return to the pitch as soon as possible.
He told 24sata: “During the last 10 years I’ve always imagined how would it be to have two to three months’ rest, but now I just want to get back on the pitch as soon as possible.
“I never thought about retiring, especially not after the World Cup and everything that happened to us after Russia. It gave me new energy and belief that my career can still go up.
“But now I am looking at everything a little differently, I will pay more attention to my eating habits and rest.
“I agreed with the club to work on a special programme, we’ll see for how long and what are the coach’s plans.
“My aim is to return as soon as possible but I am aware it will take a few months to reach top physical condition and shape.
“If everything will be okay, it should be by the time Euro 2020 qualifiers will start.
“I want to thank doctors and I don’t blame them for being too cautious. It’s better to be cautious than wrong!”
The left-back’s impending return comes as a boost to Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso, whose side are currently fifth in the Serie A table after a mixed start to the season.
A statement on the club’s official website said: “During the last few days, Ivan Strinic has undergone a series of medical examinations at the Cardiology Clinic in Padua coordinated by Prof Domenico Corrado, one of the leading international experts in sports cardiology.
“The diagnosis is ‘athlete’s heart’ reversible hypertrophy. Therefore, the footballer may immediately resume sporting activities after three months’ suspension.
“The Croatian defender will start training again at Milanello sports centre from next Monday.”