Damar Hamlin said his return to the NFL “meant everything” nine months after suffering a cardiac arrest on the pitch.
The Buffalo Bills safety collapsed during a game in Cincinnati on January 2 and had to be resuscitated before being rushed to hospital.
Hamlin was cleared to resume his career and made his first NFL appearance on Sunday in the Bills’ 48-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
He told a post-match press conference: “That moment meant everything to me.
“I think it was more about proving something to myself than anything else, showing myself that I have the courage, I have the strength, I’ve got the pride, all those words, in me.
“To go through something so dramatic and be able to come back from it and to be able to still do what I love at the highest level in the world is amazing.”
Hamlin was the last player to emerge from the tunnel prior to the match and ran the length of the field before removing his helmet and soaking up the acclaim of the crowd.
Hamlin could be in the Bills’ side next Sunday when they travel to London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.