Dario Vidosic: Turning things around at Nurnberg
Relegation, injury and rejection, Dario Vidosic has seen it, lived it and come through it at the other end a better footballer and stronger character for the experience. Now back in the Bundesliga with Nurnberg, at just 22, Vidosic is leading his team's attack, terrorising defences and having the likes of Bayern Munich legend Franz Beckenbauer asking after him.
But a year ago, it was all looking so different for the ex-Brisbane Roar prospect.
Vidosic had just seen his new club relegated from the Bundesliga, was struggling with injury and had been palmed off to Denmark's Esbjerg for trials. The Danes failed to see enough in the young Australian to offer him terms and he was sent back to Nurnberg with a heavy, black cloud hanging over his future. It did appear that he would become yet another in the long line of Australians that had failed to establish himself in Europe and would soon be returning home to pick up the pieces.
But Vidosic is a different animal. And just as we've seen now with his up-and-at-'em approach in the opening rounds of the Bundesliga, he got his head down, worked hard and convinced coach Michael Oenning to throw him in for their promotion push at the end of last season.
Oenning and Nurnberg GM Martin Bader were delighted with their little-known Aussie and immediately handed him a 12-month extension to his contract. From rejection by Esbjerg, in a matter of months, Vidosic had secured his future with a pay-rise and a deal through to 2011.
"We now know we can rely on Dario," said Oenning upon Vidosic signing his new contract. "He saw his chance and took it. Now we want him to make the next step. I am sure he can be a major part of the future of this team.
"Dario can now see that this club will reward those who are willing to work and sacrifice. He deserves this."
Oenning made special mention of how Vidosic had fought back from an early "injury crisis" in his time at Nurnberg.
"I always knew Dario would do well for us," said Oenning. "His injury crisis had stood in his way. It hurt his match fitness, but now we're seeing the true talent of the player."
Vidosic reflected on his stop-start beginnings at Nurnberg, admitting he had learned to cope with the spotlight of the local media.
"There were rumours that I had not worked seriously enough in training," said the striker. "But this is nonsense.
"I had half a year with a knee problem - it was in the left leg, with only 50 percent of my usual strength. And this problem, with the help of our medical department this year, was gradually overcome.
"The second-half of last season was crucial for me. Confidence is everything and it gave me a huge lift to play for the first team and score goals."
Vidosic had been mentioned as a target for Croatian FA officials before winning his first Australia cap earlier this year against Japan. But the striker insists there was never any question of turning his back on his country.
"Yes, I'm Australian, no question - this is my home," added Vidosic. "Though, I'm a lousy swimmer! Otherwise, I'm Australian through and through.
"As far as the World Cup, that will take care of itself. I just want to focus on doing my best with FCN (FC Nurnberg), everything else will fall into place if I'm successful here."
And it's that attitude which has seen Vidosic turn his career successfully around in just a matter of months.