After playing for 68 minutes with nine men, Ouss Cisse praised MK Dons' mindset in the 1-0 win over Peterborough.
After Joe Walsh and Osman Sow were shown first half red cards, Dons vehemently defended their single goal lead, courtesy of Chuks Aneke's strike between the sendings off, to defy Posh and take only their second win in 14 games.
Cisse, who spent much of the last two months on the sidelines after knee surgery, said football is a mental game and Dons needed to be strong to bring about a turnaround in their fortunes.
"It's a great win," he said. "We needed this because it's good for our heads. I think this will help us to go up the table.
"It was hard for us. Football is played in your head, first. We haven't picked up many points in the last four games, 11 vs 11. But against Peterborough, 9 vs 11, we win. This will be good for the rest of the season.
"I've been out for two months, but I feel good. I';ve been working hard with the physios Adam (Ross) and Simon (Crampton). It wasn't an easy game for me, but the most important thing is winning and to help us move up.
"It has been hard for the supporters too, but today we needed them and they were the 12th man."
Cisse moved from the second tier in France in the summer, primarily as a central midfield player, but was deployed as a centre back after Walsh was sent off. His performance may have surprised many, but he said he is a regular in defence for his national side Mali.
He said: "When I play for the national team, I play there. I just want to play and help my team. I like playing there, but I don't mind where I play! I don't care!"
And his time on the sidelines has been used well, with his English developing well, as he added: "My English is coming along well! I have a teacher who teaches me for an hour a week, so I am learning!"