Aussie shot-stopper Adam Federici has revealed how a year of couch surfing and bouncing from club to club helped elevate him to the Premier League and Socceroos selection
In a wide-ranging interview with The World Game's Lucy Zelic, Federici opened up about the struggles and uncertainty he experienced after making the move from NSW's South Coast to England as a teenager.
The 35-year-old, who played more than 200 games for Reading in the Premier League and Championship, will play in the A-League for the first time next season after signing with competition newcomers Macarthur FC.
However, he told Zelic the challenges he faced to break into the professional game makes him appreciate every opportunity he gets.
"I had these DVDs and sent them across England basically to every club and just waited for responses and worked with different agents trying to get trials," Federici said.
"I was on my own, running around different clubs and not knowing how you're going to pay for things or where to stay as well as being a kid across Europe.
"There were times where you'd call home and your parents would be telling you to come home but I just didn't want to leave.
"I wanted the opportunity just to have a game basically, I was like "well, I'm not going home til' I prove that I can or can't do it."
Federici had trials at Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leeds United but it was Reading where the Australian Institute of Sport graduate finally got his chance.
He helped the club to the FA Cup semi-finals and was named the club's player of the year in 2014 during a 10-year stint with the Royals.
Despite all his success on the pitch, it is breaking through as an unknown teenager which Federici holds as his greatest achievement.
"It's definitely character building, I can say that I'm definitely the person I am today because of all that. I definitely appreciate the games that I have played," he said.
"To make it to the Premier League and to step out on the pitch was a hell of an achievement for me personally.
"That's sort of what I define as success for me because I probably shouldn't have had any sort of a career, really for what I went through.
"It is a very long story and I've got loads of personal stories that maybe I'll tell one day, but I'd have done that for years and I have such gratitude for how it turned out eventually."
Eighteen years after he first moved to England, Federici says the time was right to return to Australia and explained how Macarthur Boss Ante Milicic enticed him to sign with the fledgling club.
"Speaking to Ante, we'd been talking for a while now, and the style and the way he wants to play and the way he was building everything suited me," Federici said.
"You don't get many opportunities in a football career to say you're the first name on the team sheet of a brand new team in a new area and that was pretty cool as well.
"There were lots of things going on as well - all the crazy stuff going on in the world and it was just the right time and I was also sick of not playing as much as I wanted to over there as well.
"I loved my upbringing down here on the South Coast and I wanted my kids to experience that as well."