Over the course of half an hour, sat down at Everton's Finch Farm training ground, Andre Gomes opens up on the darkest moment of his career.

No question about that night, about what happened or concerning the severity of the injury he suffered, are off the table. 

It's clear he wants to talk about it. 

The pain of a fracture dislocation to his right ankle, the haunting looks of fans in the Main Stand, why he rejected oxygen as the club doctor performed on-pitch surgery and the flashbacks he's suffered.

Not to mention his brother's reaction, why he had to shield his eyes with his knee, his team-mates' reluctance to tackle him in training and far more than can be squeezed onto these pages.

Gomes is at ease discussing, candidly and in detail, a moment he describes as "traumatic" and sits in front of a small group of assembled media having, remarkably, already made his comeback.

Less than four months after the incident.

His frank, uncut, retelling of the night against Spurs, that initially had people concerned for his career, is astonishing. 

As is the fact he can even inject elements of humour into an interview about such bleak subject matter.

But then again, Gomes' story is about overcoming adversity.

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"It was more mental," he starts.

"The thing is when it happened, I couldn’t look at my foot. I was trying to avoid it.

"I didn’t want that picture in my memory. After that happened, I knew exactly what I had in that moment. In my career, I was thinking, these kind of things can happen. I will try to avoid traumatic things like this happening to me.

"So I was like: “why me?”

"I wondered why I didn’t have the capacity to pass one second before or do something different. It was like a flashback. I have this.

"So I just needed to accept it. I needed to embrace it, look forward and recover as fast as I can."

Club doctor John Hollingsworth and physio Adam Newell raced from the dugout to attend to Gomes, who lay stricken on the ground in front of the Main Stand.

The fast-thinking of Dr Holingsworth is credited with the speed of his recovery but as his ankle was being put back into place, he refused the pain-relief on offer and instead dealt with it by punching Luis Boa Morte.

Andre Gomes poses for photo with Adam Newall (physiotherapist) (L) and John Hollingsworth (club doctor) (R) at USM Finch Farm

“He [John] was unbelievable," Gomes recalls.

"He was really fast.

"I knew he wanted to do that and I rejected the oxygen because with the adrenalin I was mad, I was angry. I was feeling everything.

"I wanted to be sure he was doing all the things properly, and actually he was unbelievable. He put my ankle in the right place.

"Obviously I did my ligaments and a bone injury. He put it in place two times, rotating it and then putting it in place.”

Gomes had experienced the situation of such an injury before, if not the pain.

While playing for Benfica in a Europa League tie with AZ Alkmaar in 2014, Gomes' "close friend" Silvio suffered a broken leg.

He never thought such a horror injury would happen to him.  The emotional impact of which was amplified by who was at Goodison that day.

"I couldn’t imagine it happening to me, so when it did I was sad and angry - not against the players - but against the moment," he says.

"I was lucky because it could have been worse and the doctor did a brilliant job on the pitch. Then on the way to the hospital my brother (Nuno) was with me. It was the first time my niece had come to the stadium to watch me play and it happened in front of them.”

"I did not see exactly but people told me my brother wanted to run from the stands to the pitch and the stewards were saying, ‘no, no, don’t do that’," he added.

"So it was really hard for everybody. Also my team-mates were unbelievable on the day. They came straight to me."

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The 26-year-old, who underwent surgery at Aintree Hospital less than 24 hours later, avoided speaking to people for the first three days. 

Slowly, he began working his way through the avalanche of texts and a long list of missed calls on his phone.

Son Heung-Min, Serge Aurier, Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alan Shearer, who suffered an ankle injury at Goodison in July 1997 during a pre-season tournament, were just a few of the people to get in touch with words of support.

And it was only when the plaster cast was taken off, and the stitches were removed, two weeks later did he look at his ankle and begin to ask questions about his recovery time.

He admits he was fearful of the answers.

"That was the time when I wanted to know what would happen and I started to ask questions: 'What’s going to happen now?'" he recalled.

"When will I be fit? How long will it be? So we took our time. Just go day by day and see how we feel. I was going to do my way of work; go to the gym, do extra work.

"They gave me the confidence. Maybe it will be three or four weeks more; maybe it will be less. Take your time and let’s start to work. In my mind, I set the goal to be back as soon as possible.

"When I came back from Portugal at the beginning of January, I wanted to be on the pitch already. I did it and I was really happy."

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"I didn't want to look and have the picture of the trauma, of the moment, [in my mind]," he adds.

"The only picture I have to be honest is of me screaming, I'm really upset with what is going on, and I lifted my knee in front of me so I couldn't see my foot.

"Because obviously with the nerves and everything, I knew something was pointing in the wrong direction.

"But my picture [in my mind] is like, while I'm screaming and I'm realising that this really happened, I can see the crowd in the stand and looking at me and going like this ...[holding hands to their faces in horror]. In the corner of the Main Stand looking at me and taking their kids out of the picture!"

The flashbacks he suffered, which lasted for a week, even forced his injured foot to move and twinge.

Eventually, while his mobility remained incredibly limited, he would find ways to distract himself.

"I was talking to the doctor and physios and they said it was normal because your memory takes a picture of what happened, the trauma, so if you are thinking about that probably you will have a reaction from your body.

"So let's face it was quite funny!"

"The next question was when I come back will I be the same player as before? Maybe better?" he says with a smile.

"That was a small concern, but people I spoke to about my specific injury helped, I wanted to find out the limits of how hard and how soon I could push myself. Once I knew the answers to those questions it became easier."

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His routine, back in Portugal, for around two months would see him be in the gym by 8am and set about a gruelling gym, swimming and mobility schedule that would last the entire day.

But Gomes was committed to it in order to be back on the training pitches of Finch Farm as soon as possible.

"I can't lie to say and say I didn't have pain or that I didn't have my foot blocked like a rock," he says. 

"I had days like that. But I wanted to got back and be with the team as soon as possible so I was going to push as much as I could without compromising [the recovery] and also respecting my body.

"When I came back, and I started with the team - and their reaction was unbelievable, the help they gave me to be on the pitch was unbelievable - I was like: 'Now I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel'."

Gomes returned to training with his team-mates at the end of January before a behind-closed-doors game was arranged last month to aid his recovery.

"When I came back - they are such good guys - I was seeing that they were not putting their foot in," Gomes said. 

"Straight away, I said two or three team-mates, that when we are playing, when I go, you go 100% otherwise I can't get ready for the game.  Don't go easy on me. 

"If I'm here it's because I'm allowed and I feel good to be here, don't go easy. Be normal. If you need to go hard, I will go hard as well, otherwise I will get injured again. 

"I needed to start working on that and even for my team-mates it was like: 'Be confident to go hard to the ball, don't worry with me'."

Andre Gomes looks on

A plan to have him fit and available for the game with Arsenal on February 23 came to fruition when he came on for the final 30 minutes or so last weekend.

There is no doubt in the midfielder's mind that he can put the trauma behind him.  And it seems as though speaking about it helps.

"I have to, I have to.  Otherwise people will notice that," he said.

"If I don't go hard then it is, maybe, better to do three or four more weeks of rehab. 

"Like I said, that was a big concern for me.  I had a trauma. I spoke with different types of people with these types of injuries, I also spoke with Danny Welbeck, he text me. 

"Also, Djibril Cisse, and I was asking 'It's traumatic, I know, but what is the next step?'  Once you are ready, if you go, you have to compete. 

"If I don't compete then people will know and say: 'Now he is different', 'Maybe he is afraid' and 'Maybe he is not putting his foot in'. 

"You can protect yourselves but 80% of the time you have to go hard, especially in the Premier League, the most competitive league in the world.  I can't be different.  I need to be the same guy I was before and go hard."

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Gomes' thirst for competition, even in the early stages of his rehab, meant he challenged Everton's Head of Therapy Services, Dan Donachie, to regular games of head tennis.

“He tries to beat me all the time!" he says, laughing.

"I was injured and still beating him. He was saying ‘I’m injured too so it doesn’t count’.

"We played a lot, when I came back we started playing then after just one week. I needed some competition.

"I wasn’t happy with just the work outside, and he plays really, really well…but he’s wrong to say he won! I can call Gylfi, he was with us for a while, so he knows what we are talking about!"