Tearful six-time world champion Marc Marquez said on Sunday his return to MotoGP felt like being back at school with "the older boys who tell you what to do and where to go."
The 28-year-old Spaniard finished seventh at the Portuguese Grand Prix in his first race since last July when he broke his right arm at Jerez.
Three surgeries and nine months later, Marquez was back, ending the race as the best-placed Honda rider.
"The hardest part were the first laps because I felt out of place," said Marquez, who saw Fabio Quartararo claim a third win in three for Yamaha this season.
"Like at school when you play football with older boys and they tell you what to do and where to go!
"In the early laps, I had no rhythm, no control of my bike and a lot of people started to overtake me.
"Then I calmed down and I found my place. I got my fastest lap at the end of the GP. And if we analyse it, finishing 13 seconds behind Fabio Quartararo, it's incredible."
Marquez received a standing ovation from his team when he returned to the pits.
He said he usually prefers to keep his emotions in check but returning to the sport which he has dominated, having won four consecutive world titles from 2016-2019, was a day he will remember.
"I couldn't control my emotions. Finishing a race is the biggest step in my rehabilitation and feeling like a MotoGP rider again was my dream. That's what happened today," he said.
"Of course, coming back to the garage I was tired, exhausted, but it was mostly an outpouring of emotions that I couldn't control. But it was very nice."
His performance on Sunday gave him nine points, 52 behind early season leader Quartararo.
There are still 16 races left with possibly two more in Argentina and the United States to come.
However, Marquez is not even thinking of a title challenge.
"It depends on the circuits, if they're physical or not. The last seven laps here I wasn't able to use my elbow. I was driving weird," he said.
"Another important point is that the doctors told me that when I came back to competition I will have to train less at home.
"Between races I will not be able to ride a motorcycle or train indoors more than three or four times a week without using a lot of weight.
"The bone in the arm is fine but the stress imposed on it must be gradual. It cannot be every day and every week."
The next race takes place at Jerez -- where he crashed last year -- on May 2.