It was just two minutes or so on the pitch but it was something to celebrate for Nic Lindsay.
After missing almost two seasons through injury, the 20-year-old midfielder came on as a substitute in Toronto FC's 1-0 loss Wednesday to Santos Laguna in CONCACAF Champions League play in Torreon, Mexico.
"An amazing feeling," said a beaming Lindsay. "It's been a journey, but a good one. I've learned a lot about myself mentally, physically. It's so good to be 100 per cent back, playing for the team I love."
Lindsay's future looked bright in September 2010 when he became the second Toronto FC Academy graduate to sign with the MLS team.
He had already made his TFC debut, coming on as a substitute in a June 2010 Nutrilite Canadian Championship game. That same month he scored three goals against Chilea's Colo Colo in an Academy exhibition match.
That September, he made his CONCACAF Champions League debut against Real Salt Lake. One month later, he saw action in his first MLS game, setting up a goal.
But his career was derailed in an off-season snowmobiling accident.
He underwent the first of several surgeries in January 2011 to repair the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Almost two years later, the baby-faced Lindsay is reluctant to discuss the circumstances of an accident that Toronto FC has acknowledged without detailing.
"I always like to look forward," he said in sidestepping the question. "Things have happened. I just want to turn a new page, a new chapter in my professional career and get things going with the first team.
"I give God all the glory, all the praise. He's the one that brought me back. I'm blessed. This is a chance I'm not going to take lightly. Every day that I wake up, I'm thankful to be practising, to be training and I'm going to do everything I can for next year — scoring goals, assisting, contributing any way I can for the team, to bring us success."
Surgery and then months of rehab followed the accident, with Lindsay a lone figure on the sideline running or working out with a trainer as the rest of the team practised.
Lindsay said he never wavered in his belief that he would be back.
"Soccer was something that I've grown up with. I've played for such a long time. I mean it's in my blood," he said. "Nothing was going to hold me back from getting to where I needed to get to.
"With God's help, my family, my friends, I was going to do everything I could possible to make sure I was back, putting on this jersey again and playing for TFC."
Lindsay, a former Canadian under-20 player, made the bench for last weekend's TFC home finale against Montreal but did not see any action.
That changed in Mexico.
"It's a long, hard road when you've had such a horrific injury," said Toronto manager Paul Mariner. "It was just nice for the kid to get on the field. Big stadium, big game."
Toronto (5-20-8) wraps up its dismal season Sunday in Columbus. Lindsay will be spending the short off-season getting ready for training camp in January.