Midfielder Vince Grella has vowed to repay John Aloisi's faith in him by helping his former Australia teammate become a top coach and turning Melbourne Heart into a strong title contender.
Grella, 33, has signed a one-year contract with Aloisi's Heart after completing a frustrating four-year stint with Blackburn Rovers that was punctuated by knee, groin and calf injuries.
Grella said he was determined to help Heart and Aloisi become big players in the A-League after Aloisi threw him a lifeline that should revive his career.
"The main reason I came back home is I've had a rough year and a half with injuries and I thought this was the best place for me to get back to enjoying my football again," Grella said.
"I've come to a club where the coach knows me and is prepared to give me time to get back to full fitness and understands that I need a bit of patience shown towards me.
"In European football sometimes there is not a lot of patience because it is a results-driven industry and there is a lot of pressure on everybody.
"I spoke to John several times over the (northern) summer and at the end I thought that coming home was the best option for me.
"I consider myself pretty luck to find someone who is prepared to help me and I hope to repay him in his first year of coaching by seeing him progress to become a top manager.
"He's helping me and I intend to help him ... we're helping each other to make Heart a strong team in Australia.
"This is the main reason I chose to play for Melbourne Heart."
Grella is under no illusion that his task of making an impact in the A-League in his familiar midfield role will not be easy because he has been deeply impressed by the quality of football he's seen so far.
"I've watched a few games since I've been back and I know that the intensity and conditions will be a difficult test for me," he said.
"The fact is that over the years you build a reputation and people will always expect a certain level of performance.
"I've discussed this with John and for this reason we have not set a time frame for my recovery.
"The training and rehab are going good and I'm gradually ticking more boxes but it's hard for me to say when I will make my debut.
"We need to get the time right and not come back too early because when I get back in I want to stay in and not have to deal with a recurrence of any injury."
Grella, who left Australia to try his luck in Italy in 1998, has nothing but praise for today's club football.
"The playing level is better than when I played for Carlton," he said.
"The pitches are nice and not full of mud, the weather is good and the clubs are more professional.
"There are also a number of good young coaches in Australia like Aloisi and Tony Popovic who have been in Europe and know what football is about and are great for the young players.
"They understand the game and what you need to be a top player.
"So the A-League is a great breeding ground for young players.
"I think the level of set-ups in Australia is very high and the fact that there is no relegation takes a bit of pressure off young players.
"Sometimes pressure is good for the young ones because it helps them mature quicker and on the other hand if there is no pressure for results this gives them time and an opportunity to get games in and develop even after perhaps a bad game or two.
"There is no better training than playing games."
Grella, who made his name in Europe as a holding midfielder with Parma in Serie A from 2004 to 2007, said one of the biggest disappointments of his career was his failure to leave his mark on the Premier League due to a string of injuries.
"In top level football it is all about performing and proving every single day that you deserve to be where you are," he said.
"I could not do that for a number of reasons which is terribly disappointing because I could never show Blackburn what I could really do.
"At the end of the day you get judged on what you are able to deliver on the pitch.
"That's just the harsh reality of football.
"And in the last couple of years it hasn't been positive for me."
Grella said he was thrilled with the news that Heart had made a bid for English superstar David Beckham who will play his last match for Los Angeles Galaxy on 2 December (AEDT).
"I've played against him twice and he's a great player and it would be a fantastic achievement for Melbourne Heart if the club can pull it off," he said.
"It would also be fantastic for the young players the club is developing.
"Who better (to guide them) than someone who has played for the best clubs in the world and who has represented his country a hundred times?"
"I can't think of a better role model."
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