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Mentally, the first week was difficult. I struggled to sleep and kept replaying what had happened over and over in my head. I eventually came to terms with it and was able to put the whole thing behind me.


It was another injury setback that I didn’t need but at least having my arm in a cast kept me out of the water for a couple of months.


Probably a good thing.


I did think about giving surfing away after that. I was angry at myself, because I felt that I’d almost let a hobby cost me everything. But at the same time, surfing is something that I really enjoy.


I had a lot of people telling me to get back on the horse. I’m glad I did.


I was still wigging out a bit the first time I returned to the water, but I just took it easy and went back to the little rollers and having fun paddling around instead of trying to be a world-beater in the big surf. That’s what it’s all about for me.


Surfing takes me away from the pressures of football and gives me a different perspective on things. You’ve got to be able to enjoy yourself away from the game because there’s a lot more to life than just kicking a ball around


I was given some great advice by my teammate, Richie Garcia, when I tore my ACL the first time. He had already done his knee three or four times by that stage. He told me, ‘As a footballer you don’t get much down time so, as bad as this is, just try to enjoy it’.


I took that advice to heart.


Being injured meant I was able to get away for breaks on weekends. I’d go and visit family and friends in Bathurst or travel up and down the NSW coast. I was able to be a groomsman at my best mate’s wedding as well.


Those are the sorts of things footballers don’t get to do very often.


When you get the chance, you really appreciate it.




What I almost lost

I haven’t had the fairytale career. I wasn’t the kid that made his debut for the national team at 18 with the world at his feet.


In fact, for a few years there I definitely questioned what I would be able to achieve in football. With the injury setbacks I’ve had, there were times I thought to myself, ‘This might be as far as I make it’. And I would have been at peace with that.


I never sooked or spat the dummy. I just kept plugging away and focused on being ready to take my chance if it ever came along.


In the end, it all happened very quick.


Since my leg rope snapped under that pipe six months ago I’ve returned from my second knee reconstruction with Sydney FC, made my debut for the Socceroos as a 27-year-old and now I’m in the UAE playing at an Asian Cup.


Honestly, I’m just over the moon to be here. Playing is a bonus as far as I’m concerned because I know how everything was almost snatched away from me.


No one ‘deserves’ to play for their country. Pulling on the jersey is an honour and I’m here to give this chance a red-hot crack. I’ve played a few games now and it’s up to me to hold down my spot.



It wasn’t the start that we were after, but we had a good look at ourselves after the loss to Jordan, learnt from it and got on with things. We responded the right way against Palestine and now we’re confident we can have a great tournament.


We definitely believe we can win it.


Dad’s been texting me before every game to tell me to just be myself. He reminds me that I’m there for a reason and that I shouldn’t be overawed.


He was never a big soccer fan when I was growing up – it was all rugby league – but I’ve converted him. He pretty much only watches football now.


What I appreciate about Mum and Dad is that they will never be the tacticians that other football-obsessed parents are. The only thing they want is for me to enjoy myself out there.


That’s what I focus on.


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