SAMMY Knott said he could not keep the smile off his face after making an emotional comeback from long term injury for East Thurrock United at the weekend.

The 22-year-old defender had not played this season after tearing the cartilage in his knee in a pre-season friendly at Maldon & Tiptree - which was in itself a comeback match following another long lay-off.

But Knott ended six months of hurt when he played the final 12 minutes of Saturday’s heavy 7-2 defeat at St Albans City in the National League South.

And although far from happy with the result, Knott said he was over the moon to be back on the pitch.

“I had the biggest grin afterwards,” said Knott. “It was not a good result for us but, and this sounds awful, I didn’t even really think about that. I was just so happy to be back out there. The reactions of other people and supporters was unbelievable. It made me well up a bit.

“I was on the bench and I wasn’t 100 per cent sure if I was going to play a part. I was pencilled in for Saturday’s FA Trophy game at Spennymoor Town but I felt good, had been going well at the gym and had done some contact sessions so I felt ready to be involved.

“I spoke to Covo (manager John Coventry) last Friday and said I would like to be on the bench. He left it up to me.

“The game was gone with 15 minutes to go and I felt like a little kid as I was getting ready to come on. I was on the bench and I said to Harry Honesty that I wanted to play so badly. At 5-2 down I said to (assistant manager) Neil Gray ‘I think I have a hat-trick in me’ so he told me to get warmed up.

“I came on and within seconds they switched the ball and I was one-on-one which wasn’t ideal!

“But I made the slide tackle and some of the boys put an arm around me which gave me confidence.

“My physio Ross Poynton may not be too happy but I felt OK and I came through it.”

Coventry told the Echo he felt quite emotional watching Knott back out on the pitch, although he admitted so little had gone right for Rocks in the game he questioned whether to introduce him.

But Knott is pleased he did, after what he described as one of the worst spells of his career, despite the spell out being shorter than the anterior cruciate ligament injury he suffered in May 2016.

“It has been a really hard period and I have found it harder,” he said.

“I tried to take the first spell in my stride but I have found it harder to motivate myself in this spell out.

“But I have done it and Saturday meant even more because of it.

“I will think about it [the injury] off the pitch for a few weeks but in games it’s different. It will wear away and I will be focused on what I have to do.

“I am travelling with the team to Spennymoor on Saturday, with Marvin [Ekpiteta] suspended and a few other boys carrying knocks too.

“I want to play a part but I have game fitness to recover and it is nearly two years since I played 90 minutes.

“I want to say thank you to everyone that has helped me through this. The club and supporters have been so good and I want to play a part in the games to come now.”