Werder Bremen's Ivan Klasnic proved his kidney transplant is behind him with two goals in the 5-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday to cap a difficult year.
The 27-year-old, who played for Croatia in last year's World Cup, opened his side's scoring in just his third league game back after a kidney transplant as Bremen drew level with Bayern Munich at the top of the league on the final weekend before the Bundesliga winter break.
Both team have 36 points from 17 rounds, with Bayern ahead on goal difference after a 0-0 draw against Hertha Berlin.
"I am, of course, very happy," he said after netting twice.
"I have forgotten the bad period which is behind me and I am just focusing on the future now," he said.
Ill-health had forced Klasnic to have a first kidney transplant at the start of the year, but when his body rejected the organ donated by his mother, it looked like his career was over.
But a second operation in March using a kidney donated by his father proved successful.
"Thank God, the transplant went very well," he said on his Web site at the time. "My body has accepted my father's kidney and we're both doing well. The doctors already told me I would be able to continue playing football."
"I could not have got through 2007 without the support of my family and teammates," he said after Saturday's game. "The year has changed my approach to life, from now on I concentrate on my health and those important to me."
It was a long road back to first team action and in August club doctors banned him from training with the Bremen squad because of fears his body would not cope with the heavy physical strain.
In September, the medics finally allowed him to train with the first-team squad and he made a few appearances for the second-team.
The striker started his first Bundesliga game since last December three weeks ago in the 2-0 win at Energie Cottbus.
Bayern Munich go into the winter break after a series of mediocre results -- with four scoreless draws in their past seven games.
Bayern wasted several chances on Saturday, including when Frank Ribery tried a backheel instead of a shot inside the area and Miroslav Klose shot over the crossbar in injury time.
In other games on Saturday, it was Schalke 2, Nuremberg 1; Bielefeld 2, VfB Stuttgart 0; Wolfsburg 4, Borussia Dortmund 0; and Karlsruher SC 1, Hamburger SV 1.
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