Heartache into hope. That is what I was left to wonder two years ago. Would this be as far as I would come? Is this how my career ends? Or for better words, would I ever make it to the A-League?

I’ll never forget when I received a call from the Brisbane Roar NPL manager, informing me that I was being cut from Youth side. Being released from the Youth Team was heart-breaking.

At the time, all I could think about was that was my final opportunity done-and-dusted. I knew it was going to be tough going from the NPL to the A-League, as it does not happen very often.

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In this game, you’re left with such a tiny window, that if you fail to make the cut, it’s common to never be seen or heard of again as the next crop of rising stars are always not too far behind.

12 months I was with the Brisbane Roar’s Youth Team, and to be released and shown the door was obviously a very difficult moment for my family and I.

Of course, at the time and even to this day, I harbour no ill feelings towards the club’s NPL staff for cutting me from the team.

If anything, it was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me, as the disappointment and failure drove me to reach even greater heights than I ever thought I was capable of. And of course, at the end of the day, I understand that the sport we play is a business, and there decision was nothing personal.

So there I was… 18 years of age and without the developmental support of an A-League club. I signed with the Western Pride, and life immediately began to take a much different shape.

I went from being a full-time footballer to training only three nights a week, alongside other players who obviously lead 9-5 working lives. All I could think was how am I supposed to get to the A-League, only training three nights a week?

For that reason alone, there were strong doubts that I’d never make it back due to a lack of opportunity and amateur system. And that’s directing no disrespect to the NPL system – it was an amazing club filled with even more amazing people and support staff.

It was just the reality of my situation. So I went back to the NPL with the Pride, and I thought to myself, I really only have two choices here.

I could either just be content playing in the NPL and enjoy playing football in the NPL, or I could train harder than all the other players around me and fight tooth and nail for one last chance at professional football.

In the weeks and months after my delisting from Roar’s NPL team, I worked my arse off. I became obsessed, it was driving me towards success.

Nothing else in my life mattered more than getting back to where I felt I belonged, and that was in the A-League system. I pushed myself through extra sessions, in hopes that the next session would give me the edge I was looking for to be a better footballer than I was the day before.

My comeback through the NPL didn’t get off to the best of starts. I tore my meniscus the night before my first return game, so I played the game the next day with the injury.

Unfortunately, I was not able to play through the pain and as a result was booked in for surgery the following day. It would rule me out from any activity for two months. It was the setback I did not need.

It was another bitter pill to swallow – my first game back, and I couldn’t even play out the game. I remember waking up from surgery, feeling as though I was at the lowest point in my life, unsure how I would be able to get back from here. But I was focused, and knew I had a mission of coming back stronger than I ever was before.

The silver lining in it all, was the lay-off was an opportunity for me to get in the gym and look to build my frame over the next eight weeks.

I worked harder than anybody else around me to get back to where I was, and my team was third last when I finally made from return from injury.

To make finals, we had to win all of our final remaining games, and remarkably we did exactly that to make it to the semi-finals before winning the Grand Final. It was dubbed one of the most unlikely of premierships in NPL history.

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That was a real positive moment for my life as well, and I think once I did that, it was even more motivation to keep on believing in myself, until I forced some team to take a chance on me.

As fate would have it, that team would be the Brisbane Roar. When I received the call to come back… well, it is hard to describe how that felt. It didn’t feel real at first. I was thinking, are you serious? They want to sign me on a pro deal?

It was obviously a really happy moment for myself personally, but also my family, knowing that the heartbreak that I went through of being released, and not knowing if I’ll get another opportunity or get back to professional football, and to get that phone call asking me to join their A-League Squad… it was a relief, but it was a big moment for me.

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But even saying that, I knew that the hard work only had started and I had one year to prove myself and I didn’t want to end up back in the NPL.

I had one year to just give it my absolute all for club, until I was lucky enough to re-sign on a new contract for two more years.

Re-signing with the Roar, knowing everything I had been through just to get back, was an unbelievable feeling and I think I’ve never had a feeling like that before.

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Every kid that plays football, grows up wanting to be a professional footballer, so when being released from the Young Roar, I was left to wonder if I would get it back. To finally make my professional debut for the Roar in November, was a dream come true.

It was a special moment for myself personally, and my family too. I was forced to bide my time – I wasn’t even on the squad for the first five or so weeks.

I had to slowly get introduced while building upon what I did in pre-season, to finally getting the opportunity to run out onto the field.

You’re looking around and it’s, you know, thousands of people there and you know that’s what you’ve been working for ever since you were young and especially the last two years. The sacrifice, the time I dedicated, it was all worth it in the end.