An emotional Nathan Aspinall reflected on a nightmare six months after ending his two-year wait for a PDC ranking title on Sunday.
Former UK Open champion and Premier League star Aspinall produced an inspirational display to claim the Players Championship 13 title in Barnsley, defeating Matt Campbell 8-6 in the final.
The 30-year-old, who has been plagued by a wrist injury since late 2021, took some time away from the game at the beginning of the year as he underwent a period of rest and rehabilitation.
But the former UK Open Champion has battled through the pain to reach the semi-finals of a European Tour event since returning to action as well as the final of a Players Championship event last week.
"It's emotional, it means the world," said Aspinall. "I've had a terrible six months, so much stuff has gone on with injury and stuff like that.
"It was only a couple of weeks ago I was thinking 'am I ever going to play at the top level again?'
"There was talk of an operation being the only way I was ever going to play darts again but I had some good news from the doctors a couple of weeks ago and my head just became clear.
"I had a good run last week and I've put so much work in over the last three or four weeks to get back to playing how I used to.
"Mentally it's been such a challenge. When you've been up there with the best and you come crashing down it's horrible.
"You doubt yourself, thinking 'am I good enough to be with the top boys?' and that leads to missing out on the Premier League and the World Series.
"The wrist is still an issue, the tears are still there and will be for 12-18 months. I'm in a lot of pain so I'm going to have to keep it well managed."
The £12,000 winner's prize all but ensures Aspinall's qualification for July's Betfred World Matchplay and October's BoyleSports World Grand Prix.
Aspinall, who competed in the Premier League in 2020 and 2021, reaching the Play-Offs on both occasions, is determined to return to the Premier League stage in the near future.
"I know I'm a good player, I believe I am a Premier League player, a top eight in the world player," Aspinall continued.
"Now that my head is so clear, all I want to do is get back to where I was in 2019, winning tournaments, I want to be back in the PL.
"I'm going on holiday this week to avoid watching the Manchester Premier League night because I want to play there so desperately.
"If I keep winning tournaments I'm going to put myself back in contention for the invitational events."
🗣 "𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗲𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘄𝗼𝗿𝗹𝗱 𝘁𝗼 𝗺𝗲"— PDC Darts (@OfficialPDC) April 10, 2022
Hear from an emotional Nathan Aspinall after he clinched a first ProTour title for two years at Players Championship 13. pic.twitter.com/nOjAH91ptS