MAMADY SIDIBE could hardly have wished for a better Christmas gift . . . as he gained the reward for all the courage and determination he has shown over the past few years.
The Mali international striker scored his first goal since February 2010 when he bagged the winner for Sheffield Wednesday in their Boxing Day victory over Bolton Wanderers.
Sidibe has had to battle his way back from the cruellest of injury misfortune over almost three years stretching back to the last time he was on target in a Stoke City shirt, scoring the second goal in a 3-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers in the Barclays Premier League back then.
There have been times when it appeared he would not make it back, especially when he suffered a dislocated knee after overcoming two Achilles tendon injuries.
"To score against Bolton was a special moment for me after being out for so long," he admitted. "The fact that I am playing again is the most important thing, but to score and it turn out to be the winner against Bolton made it a fantastic occasion.
"It has been very hard for me over the last two and a half years and when I injured my knee last year, I thought it was the end of my career.
"I have had a lot of support and encouragement to keep going and it makes it all worthwhile to enjoy a moment like this again after so long."
He added: "I am very grateful to everyone at Stoke for their backing and I have to give thanks to Sheffield Wednesday for giving me this chance.
"I just need to stay fit and stay in the team. Hopefully, no more injuries and it's a great challenge to help this club out in their current situation.
Sidibe extended his loan spell with Wednesday for a further month shortly before Christmas and wasted no time in making his mark with the winner at the Reebok Stadium to boost Wednesday's bid to climb clear of relegation trouble.