U.S. attacker Johannsson: I never gave up hope at Werder Bremen
After making a dramatic return to Werder Bremen's starting lineup, United States international Aron Johannsson hailed coach Florian Kohfeldt for giving him another opportunity.
Johannsson, 27, had not started a Bundesliga match since September 2016 until Kohfeldt, who took over in late October, opted to play him on the wing instead of in a more central position.
Last weekend, in just his 21st Bundesliga match since joining from AZ Alkmaar in 2015, Johannsson helped Bremen to a 3-1 win over Wolfsburg that took them out of the relegation zone for the first time in months.
"I now have a coach who really believes in me and backed me from his first day with the squad," Johannsson told reporters in Bremen.
Looking back at his first two seasons, which were overshadowed by injury and saw him sidelined by then-coach Alexander Nouri, Johannsson said: "It wasn't an easy time for me, but I never gave up and continued to work hard."
Kohfeldt, 35, said he believed Johannsson's long spell away from first-team action had made him stronger, adding: "He's through that now. He just has a positive approach, never in any way tenses up, plays his game.
"But, maybe also because of the phase he's been going through, he's found a certain seriousness and knows that defending is part of the game. He had to learn that in the last two-and-a-half-years."
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.