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Ex-PSV midfielder Culina's fightback inspires father

Branko Culina has spoken of the immense pride he feels for his son Jason as he nears his comeback from a long-term injury.

The former Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Gold Coast United and Newcastle Jets midfielder is on the verge of again playing at a competitive level after taking part in a bounce match for Sydney FC against Western Sydney Wanderers on Tuesday.

Culina has had plenty of bad luck in recent seasons because of a couple of serious knee injuries but setbacks are nothing new to the former Australian international who experienced difficulty when he first moved to Europe with Ajax in 2000.

Now he is almost back to full fitness and his father Branko - former Sydney and Newcastle coach - is delighted to see him return from a potentially career-ending problem.

"He's a competitive individual and to his credit, he's had some difficult times," Branko told au.fourfourtwo.com.

"I remember when he first went to Ajax - it wasn't easy for him. After the first or second year they pretty much wanted him to move him on.

"He was about 21 training with 17-year-olds because Ajax basically said even though you've got a five year contract we don't see you as being first team regular, therefore you can go."

He added: "That determination when he was told he was not required, that he would only be played when no other players were available - that showed his character.

"And I knew to play in two World Cups, to play 60 odd times for Australia, to play 30 odd games in the Champions League, to be written off by Ajax after year one basically and then bounce back and achieve all that - I knew he had that toughness.

"One thing at a time but if he makes a sound comeback with Sydney don't be surprised if he also has the desire and ambition to be back with the Socceroos."

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Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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