LIVERPOOL -- Things have not been easy for Everton winger Yannick Bolasie. The DR Congo international joined the club from Crystal Palace for around £25 million last summer but ruptured his cruciate knee ligament in December and has been ruled out for a year.
At a cooking challenge to celebrate Songkran, the Thai New Year's festival, in association with Everton sponsor Chang, Bolasie talked to ESPN FC about the challenges he has had to face.
Q. This is obviously a testing time for you with the injury. You work with leading sports psychologist Dan Abrahams, so how has he helped you through this difficult period?
A. I've been working with Dan for four years now. He tells me what to do to take my mind off football, and, at times, he gets me switching on again with remembering the player that I am. It's helped a lot.
Q. There are processes he uses to help you deal with situations on the pitch, but what sort of methods has he used with you when you've been out injured?
A. It's a similar type of method. It doesn't change really. The only thing that's changed is that I'm not playing. But if my mentality is the same then I think you're in a good place.
Q. We don't often hear about footballers using psychologists. While the game is about talent and physicality, the brain is so important. What were the reasons for getting involved with Abrahams?
A. My agent recommended it to me a few years ago. I tried it and I liked it. At the time, I didn't think anything of it. I just thought 'I'm playing football and I'm comfortable'. When Dan came around, it made me think about the game a lot more and think about it in a different way. It's definitely helped me improve, that's for sure, because the rise that I've had over the last three or four years has been incredible.
Q. With that in mind, what sort of things has he helped you with on the pitch?
A. Not getting frustrated. At the time, I was at Palace and you're normally playing against a team that's going to have the ball more than you, so how are you meant to showcase your stuff? You can't do it all the time. So it helped me stay relaxed. It helped me massively at Palace. Obviously, it's different strategy at Everton because we have the ball a little more.
Q. Often footballers say watching teammates play in games or going out to train is the most painful thing when you're out injured. What have Ronald Koeman and Everton done to make you feel still part of the group?
A. I've been working hard to try and get back at an earlier time, but I've been speaking to the manager, the coaching staff and the players and [having] banter. It's been all good. To be honest, where I am in the changing room and in the physio room, I can't really see out on to the [training] pitch so it's not too bad. I think it would have been worse if it was open and you can see everyone training, then it hits you a little bit more.
Q. Where are you in terms of your recovery?
A. I'm in a good place now. I don't know how long it is until I'm jogging, but as soon as I start jogging then I'll start seeing real, real light then, that's for sure.
Q. What kind of Everton do you want to return to, a side in Europe?
A. Obviously, but the team right now is doing great. My dream was always to get Everton to Europe but the team are doing it right now and it's looking like we might be in Europe next season. Hopefully, I can come back and be like a new signing.
Q. Elsewhere, your former teammate at Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha, is in excellent form. He's sort of showing the promise that everyone expected. You must have always known just how far can he go?
A. He can go as far as he wants. I said the other day that he's got the same kind of ability as Neymar and people were raising their eyebrows. But now they're starting to see it and nobody is saying anything anymore! I'm just kind of laughing to myself and I'm like 'Well, I said that already'. It's whether people take notice or not. He's catching the eye now and doing well for himself. At the moment, he's helping Palace a lot.
Q. He got a move to Manchester United at an early age. Do you feel that often too much pressure can be put on young shoulders?
A. Obviously, he knew it was a big opportunity to go to United -- and everyone is going to go, you're not going to turn down United. But, for him, I think that's helped him in the long run because you see the game that he's playing and he can probably go back there. This season he's showing everything. We knew that he had skills but he's adding in the goals and the assists.
Q. He's also added consistency to his game and that's one of the hardest things for a footballer to do...
A. He's not going out there and forcing it. He knows how to have a good game and that's the main thing. I found at Palace that I knew how to have a good game, I knew what to do to have a good game, rather than going out there and just trying to everything all the time, which you do as a youngster because you're playing with no fear. But when you find the formula then there's not that many people that can stop you.
I've been taking on people since I was 11 or 12, I used to buzz off that. When I go past someone, that's a buzz for me. Now when you go past someone, you've got to do something with it at the end. That was the difficult part but I know that I've added that to my game, and Wilf has done that now.