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Strootman: I feel like a footballer again

Kevin Strootman has expressed his joy at making his return to the pitch after 392 days away from the game and with three operations behind him. 

Roma v Palermo was the Dutchman's homecoming and he's declared it the perfect evening in his post-match interview. 

"It's been far too long,” Strootman announced after the game. “After three operations, I'm back at the Olimpico for a match that we won 5-0. It's perfect, I'm over the moon. Finally, I feel like a footballer again."

The Giallorossi No.6 injured his cruciate ligaments during Napoli v Roma in March 2014. He managed five games between the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 before being ruled out again, going under the surgeon's knife on two further occasions.

Was there ever a moment when you feared you might have to stop playing?

"Never about stopping, but I was certainly afraid. Just before the third operation was a difficult moment because I had got back to 80% and was feeling good, but then they told me I had to have another operation. 

"That was tough but I worked well with the medical and coaching staff, as well as everyone else concerned, my team-mates included. I'm back playing now, still not 100% but I'm working hard to get there."

How do things look for this final stretch of the season?

"It's difficult to say, we've picked up five wins in a row and we want to continue like this. We need points because Juventus and Napoli are winning almost every week. We want to finish in a good position in the league."

You must be set on playing in the Champions League next year. 

"I only managed five minutes away against CSKA Moskva and it wasn't a good match for me. Of course I want to play in the Champions League next, as do everyone at Roma, the fans and the players." 

How's your relationship with Luciano Spalletti?

"He's a great coach, just like Rudi Garcia. They are different. We're here to do a job on the pitch. He chooses who to play, tells us what we need to do and we follow those instructions."

Have you got anything to say on the Totti incident?

"I don't want to speak about this, it's to do with our captain and our coach. They'll speak tomorrow. 

"We had to concentrate solely on today's game and Monday's training session."

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