CARLOS Edwards said he was “emotional” making his Millwall return in the win over Peterborough on Tuesday night.
Edwards started at right-back in the Football League Trophy tie and supplied the injury-time assist for Shaun Williams’ winning header.
After recovering from knee ligament damage that kept him sidelined for almost a year, the 36-year-old praised the club for giving him the chance to continue his rehabilitation under the guidance of physio Bobby Bacic and the medical department, despite his contract having expired during the summer.
After proving his fitness he is now signed to a deal until at least January.
“I always say ‘practice makes permanent’,” Edwards told Lions Live on Thursday evening. “The harder I work the better I get at what I do.”
“I could give myself a pat on the back, but then again it was a team effort with Bob and myself and his staff.
“I think in this industry everybody will get a bit of criticism… but he will find whatever he thinks fits to get the player back.
“I had already prepared myself for the worst (after the injury) and it was just a matter of me saying, ‘Listen, it’s already gone, there’s nothing I can do about it anymore, it’s for me now to put my head down and work as hard as possible to get back’, and I did that and there I was on Tuesday running around like a gazelle for 90 minutes.
“It was a pleasure to put back on the shirt. It was a really, really emotional time for me. My wife came out to support me. The kids weren’t there because it was a night game and they were in bed, but being back out, in front of not much fans, but being at The Den made me feel, yes, I’ve worked hard and achieved something that I wanted to.
“I don’t think there are many clubs that would let a player continue their rehabilitation and actually join in in pre-season not knowing the future of the player.
“I think the fans also had a major part to play, they kept sending tweets and good wishes… and that inspired me also to want to get back playing.”
Edwards linked up with Fred Onyedinma – who is half his age – on the right flank against Dave Robertson’s side and outlined the advice he has been passing on to his young team-mate, citing a passage of play late in the game when the attacker lost the ball with Edwards overlapping outside.
“Sometimes it’s a rush of blood,” he said of the younger players. “You’re in that position, you’re like a horse, you’ve got the blinkers on and seeing straight and not seeing what is at the side of you.
“I know a lot of players at that point might shout and yell at him but I don’t mind players losing the ball or trying something in the last third of the pitch, you never know what might happen.
“He could have had a shot, it could have ricocheted and come to me and I could have had a shot, scored, or crossed for someone else.
“All I could say to him at that point in time was, ‘Fred, have a look around, be aware, maybe take a pace or two off when you’re running that quickly just to let your team-mates catch up.’
“You know, I’m 40, going on 41! At the end of the day I’m the one who has to get back.
“But I would never discourage any player from taking on a defender. Sometimes you have to be selfish, but it’s a team game.
“I said to him against Chesterfield, ‘Freddie, mix your game up a bit… teams are eventually going to know your strengths and they’re going to double-team you so when you get that ball call one of your attacking partners and play a little one-two.’
“And he said, ‘Yeah, I was trying.’ I said, ‘You weren’t trying, if you were trying you would have been shouting at someone to do it.’”
Meanwhile, Edwards pulled no punches describing Millwall’s home form last month, but believes the win against the Posh can finally launch their season.
“Teams have been coming to The Den wanting to get our scalp, they know if they get our scalp it’s a big bonus for them.
“That’s something that in the past was really hard to do – now it’s like taking candy from a baby.
“But August is gone, we can’t do anything about the games we lost and that game on Tuesday, I hope, is the stepping stone for things to come.”