Michael Thwaite said Gold Coast United will always have a place in his heart, but he is relieved to put a difficult 2011/2012 season at the helm of the folded club behind him.
The 29-year-old Perth Glory defender captained Gold Coast last season, during which a series of off-field incidents conspired to bring about the club's closure.
“I’m a Queenslander at heart”, Thwaite said. “Gold Coast United will always hold a very special place in my heart, just as it will for the other lads that played there.
“It’s only natural to feel upset about what happened there, but it’s also a pleasure to now be at a club that is run properly, because Gold Coast clearly wasn’t.
“It’s great to be able to focus solely upon the everyday aspects of the game and the kind of leadership I can give to the team without all the other shenanigans off the field.”
“I’m delighted to be at a good stable club with a clear direction and my wife is really settled here as well which is obviously hugely important.”
Thwaite is joined at Glory by fellow Gold Coast alumni Shane Smeltz, Bas van den Brink and Steve Pantelidis.
“Obviously the stars have aligned somewhere and I’ve ended up back together with a load of the boys I played with at Gold Coast which is great," he said.
“I also knew several of the other players from my involvement with the national team and spells overseas, so all that really helps with team bonding and a greater understanding on the paddock”.
Glory, which finished runner-up to Brisbane Roar in the A-League Championship last season, is completing its pre-season tour of South Africa and Thwaite says the players are starting to gel as a group.
“I wasn’t really happy with my performance in the first two games (against the W.A. Amateur side and Amazulu), but in the last game against Platinum Stars I thought we all looked better," he said.
“We actually took what we are trying to develop into training into the game and the shape and transition from defence to attack was outstanding at times.”
“In terms of a target for the season, finals football is a must and I think once we get there, we’ll have as good a chance as anyone else.
“At a personal level, I strive to play every minute of every game and I hate being taken off, even in friendly matches. It upsets me and the gaffer might have to get used to that.”
Kashiwa Reysol sealed its progression in the AFC Champions League with a 5-2 aggregate win over Korea Republic club Jeonbuk Motors.