BOGOTA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Colombia and River Plate midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero said Monday that he is yet to reach his physical peak and described himself as a lion ready for football's return.
Quintero, who joined River Plate from Independiente Medellin in 2017, etched his name into the Argentinian club's folklore in 2018 when he scored a decisive extra-time goal in the Copa Libertadores final against rivals Boca Juniors.
If 2018 was marked by triumph, the following year was one of frustration and disappointment. A serious knee injury in March meant he spent more than six months on the sidelines and, despite returning in October, he has struggled to regain form and fitness for the Buenos Aires outfit.
Now, he is taking nothing for granted as he seeks to return to the level that made him one of the best players in South America two years ago.
"I'm at a very large club and from the first day they have been very welcoming to me," the 27-year-old said in an Instagram live session. "I'm happy at River. I love this team. I've found my place in football and I'm very grateful to belong to this team."
He added: "We all know what River means worldwide and to be at a club of this category you have to keep performing at a high level. My best version hasn't been seen yet. We are like lions that want to go out to eat everything."
Quintero, who has been capped 23 times for Colombia and scored in each of the past two World Cups, admitted he has struggled with football's coronavirus-enforced shutdown and Argentina's strict quarantine measures.
"You have to have mental strength. I've also found it tough at times. I've suffered a lot," he added. Enditem