Danish striker Nicklas Helenius believes he has become a stronger person since returning on loan to Aalborg in the summer.
In an interview with Danish newspaper BT, Aston Villa loanee Nicklas Helenius has declared that he is now over the health and mental problems which saw him endure a torrid debut season with the Premier League club.
Helenius, 23, sealed a £1.2 million move to Villa from childhood club Aalborg in June 2013 after netting 16 times in 33 Danish Superliga games during the 2012-13 season, but would go on to make just six appearances over the course of the campaign for a total of 153 minutes, scoring once in the shock 2-1 FA Cup defeat to League One side Sheffield United.
Deemed surplus to requirements in the summer before returning to his former side on season-long loan, the towering striker revealed to tv3Sport in September that he had contracted a bacterial infection during his time at Villa Park which left him in endless pain, addicted to sleeping pills, depressed and fearing death.
Now with half a season of regular minutes under his belt, Helenius has returned from the league’s winter break in good condition and, after netting from the spot amid a solid performance in Aalborg’s 3-1 Europa League defeat to Club Brugge, believes he is now primed to rediscover the form which first saw Villa court his signature.
"Losing weight has given me more speed in my feet,” he said. “But mentally I am in a better place now than it was in the fall. The problems with depression I had in my time at Aston Villa are shelved, and luckily the police report [for street racing in his Porsche] ended with me being acquitted.
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“But it is no secret that there have been distractions,” he continued. “I accept that I have not been in top form for Aalborg in the fall. My problems off the pitch also meant that I returned to the club one month into the season. It meant that I was behind my teammates and opponents.
“Adversity has made me stronger.”
Helenius has just six goals in 30 total appearances since his Aalborg return, but is targeting double-digit figures over the second half of the season in a bid to help the Danish champions climb up from a disappointing sixth-place in the table.
Nevertheless, even if he does impress over the coming months, the two-time capped isn't thinking about a return to Villa, despite the recent departure of Paul Lambert.
"I left it to my agent to look at my future opportunities,” he added. “I don’t think too much of it myself. It would just remove my focus from football and that must not happen.”