The Czech striker is back in the first-team fold 19 months after suffering a horrific leg beak in training.
Kozak, 26, was speaking to AVTV after making his first senior appearance in 19 months as a half-time substitute in last weekend’s pre-season opener against Fulham, when he took just 12 minutes to find the back of the net.
It was the tall striker’s first goal since scoring against Stoke in December 2013, having sustained a severe leg break in training the next month and been battling to return to the pitch since.
He had been expected to make his initial comeback during the first half of last season but was forced to undergo a second operation in October after suffering a serious setback that left him fearing for his career.
The Czech Republic international made excellent progress in his rehabilitation over the following months, however, as he moved up from non-contact work to full training, before earning a 67-minute run-out in the Under-21 side’s 1-0 win at Wolves in April.
Now back with the first-team, the long-term absentee has been impressing during the first week of Villa’s pre-season training camp in Portugal and, with a competitive return in sight, is hoping to reward the claret and blue faithful for their patience going forward.
“All the time I was injured, the fans were always behind me,” Kozak told AVTV. “They were pushing me forward and this was motivation for me. I was happy that people didn’t forget me and I have to now do something for them.
“Sometimes it wasn’t easy [to stay positive], it was really hard. When I had to do the second operation was the hardest moment but I had to just keep going forward, try to be positive, do my work and get back fit.
“Before the injury, I did well. It was my first season in the Premier League and I was trying to improve so now I want to continue where I left off two seasons ago and demonstrate that I can come back better than before.”
|2013-14 Premier League||Position||Team||Goals||Goals MINS||Total Shots||Shooting Accuracy||Assists||Total Key Passes||Headers Won||Header Success||Appearances||Mins Played|
|Libor Kozák||FW||Aston Villa||4||195.25||11||64%||0||8||44||34%||14||781|
Continuing on his performance in the 3-1 defeat to Fulham, in which he latched onto Joe Cole’s 57th-minute through ball to deliver a confident finish, Kozak added: “After such a long time, it was nice to get back on the pitch and play with the lads.
“It was amazing because it was such a long time and the goal added something more. I’m very happy that, in the first game, I can have that sensation.
“It wasn’t easy at the start [of the game] but soon I got used to it and enjoyed it very much.”
Having netted four times in his first 15 appearances for Villa after arriving from Lazio in September 2013, Kozak has shown definite flashes of potential at the Premier League level but, after so long out, it remains to be seen how much time it will take for him to readjust to top-flight action.
Nevertheless, with fellow forward Christian Benteke now reported to be Manchester United’s main transfer target [h/t The Sun], he could well be asked to fill a far more important role than expected in manager Tim Sherwood’s plans for the coming campaign.