‘We just weren’t on the same channel’
It was frustrating not playing against Western United a couple of weeks back – you always want to play every game. But in saying that, it was part of the agreement when I left the club, which is one I was party to. So for me, there’s no problem; if you agree to something, you stick by it.
The way I looked upon it was it was one game, and I know I’ve got more than one game in me, albeit at my age. It’s the overall picture that’s the major thing. We won the game, which was fantastic, and we’re moving forward as a team.
People will always make a lot of something when not much is said publicly, but I’m someone who lets my football do the talking, and no-one can understate my performances when I was at Western United.
Everyone has their own opinions – I have mine, they have theirs – and for me, we just weren’t on the same channel. When that happens, and you want to play and enjoy your football, then you need to find somewhere that’s going to give you that. I’ve found that at Brisbane, and that’s about as much as I can say about things.
‘I just didn’t know what to do’
People ask who was the best footballer I played against? I can always go straight to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, simply because I was honoured to have been on the same pitch as them. But I like to look at it in terms of the centre-half that was the biggest challenge for me.
Gabriel Milito is a name that wouldn’t stand out to people. Argentinian guy, his brother Diego was a striker. Well we played against Barcelona this night in the Champions League, and it’s the one time in my career I wasn’t even able to have a kick of the ball.
He was similar stature and size to me and I was thinking I could get at him. But those sorts of guys were always the most difficult ones, because they were the most agile and they read the game well; they relied on different attributes to get by as centre-halves.
Anyway, it was like he was my Kryptonite. I’d go short, he’d nick it. I’d go long, he’d body-check me. He’d beat me in the air. I couldn’t bully him. I just didn’t know what to do.
Look, it was Barcelona, in the Champions League. At times, at the absolute elite level you do find yourself out of your comfort zone because of the experience of these guys, and the high levels they’ve been playing at week-in, week-out, and that night that was probably the case, but it was a great learning experience.
‘I was excited again – like a kid’
I retired for six months when I was in Scotland. I’d lost my love for football – I started to hate it. The playing, the politics.
In the end, the break was good for me. I got into fulltime media work with BBC Scotland and really enjoyed it; I found it kept me, in a way, getting ready for game day each week. I was doing punditry, co-commentary, interviews and presenting, and I found it was something else I was passionate about.
The time out of playing also allowed me to evolve the way I saw things – it made me a little bit more for everyone else, rather than being just for Scott McDonald. I’d gone into a shell of it being all about me. It had gotten to the point where I was frustrated and I wasn’t really communicating with my teammates correctly, or at all.
I came out of retirement, went to Partick Thistle in Scotland where an ex-teammate was the manager, and he gave me a good platform to express myself but also be a leader and help others, and I really got a buzz out of that. I found if you gave enough of yourself to others, the reward you got back was huge.
When you’ve been a centre-forward who has thrived on goals, and people have judged you by your goals, your mentality is very single-minded. You want to be that headliner because it’s like a drug – you want to taste it all the time. But going away, maturing a little bit, that was good for me.
Then Western United came in for me, which I’ll be eternally grateful for. I’ll always be proud of being one of the first players to play for that club. I was excited again. I was like a kid. It gave me that kick, to really appreciate what I hadn’t been doing for that six months.
‘I don’t think we’ve been outplayed’
I am very passionate about a potential coaching career. I’m UEFA A-License accredited, and now I’m going to be doing some work with the Roar Academy, which I’m excited about and very grateful for. That was an important factor for me in coming here.
Even as a 36-year-old, listening to what Robbie Fowler says on the training pitch about where to pick up spaces, where you should be looking to go, it’s all a great learning curve in terms of coaching education.
If I hadn’t had the opportunity to come home, I never would’ve played again. I was done. But I’m absolutely delighted I’ve come back.
We’ve shown at the Roar that we’re capable of hurting teams at the higher level. I don’t think we’ve been outplayed since I’ve been at the club – even when we went down to 10 men against Sydney, I still felt we should’ve nicked something out of that game. So we’re in a great mental state as a squad, and I’m hoping there’s still another chapter to write in that book of mine before the end of play.