The former Australia U20 representative made his A-League debut against the Perth Glory last week and is excited about pursuing a career in his home country after experiencing a taste of European football.
tribalfootball.com caught up with the 23-year old to discuss life, football, family and his plans for the future.
How have you settled in at the Mariners? How’s your fitness coming along?
I have settled in well at the Mariners. They are a good bunch of boys, some of them I have known for years, just from playing with and against. My fitness is ok. I had a serious knee injury when I was in Germany so that has been holding me back a bit but I’m definitely improving my fitness each week.
How was your debut last week? Did you rate yours and the team’s performance?
My first start with the Mariners felt good. Although it was not the best result, we scraped through for a draw (against Perth) but it was good to get that first match under my belt and get a feel for A-League football.
What is your contract situation?
I have signed a short-term deal until the end of the season and I will reassess in the off season. Now I am at the Mariners I would like to stay but we will just see what happens.
What happened in your trials at Port Vale over the close-season? How long did they last and what feedback did you receive?
Feedback from the club was good but it was just unfortunate at the time that they did financial problems. The club had just been relegated from League One to League Two and although I had done well in my trial is was not quite right financially so I decided to pursue an opportunity in the A-League.
Did you receive any other interest in Europe before returning to Australia and is it correct that you knocked back an offer from Borussia Monchengladbach?
The move back from Germany was basically due to family reasons. My wife was pregnant – we just had a baby boy six weeks ago – so I wanted to come home for that reason. Also, the language barrier and lifestyle were other reasons for not extending my contract at Gladbach and I want to raise my family in familiar surroundings.
I also was keen on playing first team football which I wasn’t doing at Gladbach and I wanted to get back to a natural environment.
After two years away from Australia, do you think you’ve come back a better player and person?
I definitely learnt a lot from my opportunity overseas. Unfortunately I got the knee injury which was a big set back and I felt like I was always playing catch up but the experience did improve parts of my game. I always felt I was quite strong physically so that part of my game pretty much stayed the same but I learnt other skills that I feel have improved both personally and football-wise.
Take us through your transfer from Uerdingen to Gladbach.
I left Melbourne Victory to try and get regular first team football due to there being no youth team and I was finding it hard to get regular game time. I made the move to Uerdingen where I was for five months and we played a game against Borussia Monchengladbach. They were impressed with my performance and were keen on me and offered me a contract.
I guess I was quite lucky being in the right place at the right time.
Did you enjoy your two years at Gladbach? How much were you involved in the first team there?
I did definitely enjoy my time there. I had some ups and downs, obviously the injury being one and I kept thinking that it was not happening for me but after I got over the set back it was looking better. I began training more with the first team but I had no official matches, it was mainly in-club games and lots of training.
How does playing and training in the A-League compare with what you experienced for two seasons at Gladbach?
The professionalism in Germany is of such a high standard and the intensity of training is much greater because you are always fighting for a spot and there are always trialists coming into the club.
In Australia, the strength and conditioning and recovery would probably be the best in the world. Obviously football-wise Germany has much more experience, there is more competition and you are made to work harder but the Central Coast Mariners set up is great; there are these little extras that make it great.
You more than held your own in the 2005 U20 World Cup (in Holland). Do you think you can regain that sort of form?
I had a good time at the World Cup in Holland. I thought I did quite well there and I am definitely aiming to get back some of that form. My major target is to first get a regular spot in the A-League and make my mark in the elite group of players.
What’s your future beyond the end of the season? Do you want to stay in Australia, or are you thinking about having another crack in Europe?
I’m pretty keen to stay in Australia for a year or two and then just take it from there. At the moment I am concentrating on playing in the A-League and then seeing what happens for there. My family is very important and having them comfortable in Australia is something I have to think about.