For Fabio Quagliarella, it's been a long road back. He was having the season of his life when, suddenly, his knee decided to go in about 100 different pieces as he made an innocent reach for a 50-50 ball in early January 2010 at the Stadio Olimpico in Turin.
That was the beginning of what looked like to be a career-chaning event for Eta Beta, one that sent him from Juventus' leading scorer for half a season to one where his future at the club looked completely uncertain. Rumors swirled, papers printed articles as to where he may start the season — anywhere but stay in Turin.
Fast forward to almost two entire years and he's back and resembling the Quagliarella of old — the same one that scored both routine goals, but also the completely insane ones you usually only see on your PlayStation 3.
How's he doing it? Well, we could, ya know, just let Quags speak for himself. Via Football Italia:
"I am not surprised to be scoring so much," he told Tuttosport. "I have realised that I'm calmer and cooler in front of goal now.
"A few years ago I was frantic in search of goals, but I've matured more. Perhaps this is the best moment of my career.
"I feel stronger than I did before the injury. It will be coming up to two years in January and I've really grown since then."
For me, the last couple of sentences are the most important, especially considering the knee injury he had.
I'm no athletic trainer — nor do I claim to be even close to — but general thinking is that the second year after a serious knee injury is when things really start to get back to normal. It's when you get your strength back to the previous levels.
And now he's starting to show exactly that.
The benefit is already clear: Juventus has a goal scorer. Sure, the inconsistent tag will over hang over Quagliarella's head because that's the reputation he has. But when he's on form, like he is right now, there's no denying how important to Juve he can be.
He seemingly carried the offense two years ago. He was scoring in almost every way possible. He was doing the spectacular, yet also doing so in a consistent fashion. He scored nine goals in 17 matches, basically a goal every other game.
He's on that same kind of pace — if not a better — one right now.
Reason to celebrate? Yes, reason to celebrate.
A lot of it has to do with his hat trick against Pescara over the weekend, of course, but this is the Quags of old. The explosiveness that looked to be missing from his run on the field in the preseason is back. The acrobatic efforts in front of goal are back. And while I hate when journalists jump to crazy conclusions caused by tiny sample sizes, the always-unpredictable Quagliarella of old does in fact seem to be back.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a good thing to have at this point in time.
Antonio Conte will say that he has faith in all of the strikers at his disposal. I've certainly come to respect anything that Il Mister says. But, with that being said, the way he's playing right now, sitting down Quagliarella for anything other than a day off is not going to happen.
And that's the thing that makes having an on-form striker so nice to have.
There's no way around it. When Quagliarella is on, like now, he's a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. Seriously. You think he is afraid to shoot from almost midfield? Well, better think twice about that one.
And, for the road Quagliarella has traveled to get to this point, it's certainly one that makes it that much more enjoyable to watch.