A return to the UK is looming for Australian midfielder Oliver Bozanic after his departure from relegated Scottish Premiership club Hearts.
Whilst the Edinburgh outfit launched a legal challenge to their bitterly contested demotion, FIFA 2014 World Cup Socceroo Bozanic, 31, is back home in Terrigal sifting through interest from elsewhere in Scotland, the Championship, League One and the A-League.
The tigerish competitor left a lasting impression in his two seasons at the club who were four points adrift at the bottom of the league when the season was halted and finally aborted as a consequence of COVID-19.
With his contract about to expire, Bozanic - now a free agent - departed during the lockdown in March leaving a legacy of 43 SPL appearances and six goals.
The former Central Coast Mariners championship winner forged a reputation for tenacity and reliability and believes there’s still plenty of fuel left in the tank as he ponders his next career move.
“There’s been some interest coming in and right now I’m taking my time and I want to make a good decision on where to (go) next,” Bozanic told The World Game.
“I’m looking to stay in the UK and working closely with my agent (James Hardy) to find an opportunity we’re both happy with.
“It’s waiting and seeing - we’re taking our time and with the coronavirus, leagues almost everywhere are also taking their time to get set up again and we’re not at a point where anybody is making decisions right now. It’s crazy times all over really.”
Unsurprisingly, Bozanic, who has also had spells with Luzern, Melbourne Victory and Japanese side Ventforet Kofu, has attracted A-League advances.
“I’ve had some opportunities to come home and to go to other places but at my age I really want to push for a really good two years to come in the UK,” he added.
“That’s where my head’s at at the moment.”
With Hearts commencing litigation against the Scottish Professional Football League after the collapse of reconstruction talks sealed their relegation from the top flight, Bozanic looked back on two solid seasons with the club that fellow Aussie Ben Garuccio still calls home.
“I had a really enjoyable time there - it’s just a pity it’s ended in such crazy circumstances,” he said.
“The club, the players, staff and fans are really upset by what’s happened and that’s why there’s legal action going on.
“My contract was expiring and when the league stopped in March the club was one of the first to have to impose pay cuts on players and staff in order to survive.
“The club had to take some action and that’s what they chose to do - it was difficult from a player’s point of view. But it was important for the club to get through a tough time and ensure its own survival.
“There was no way forward for some players with everything going on - and no decisions could be made until the future of the club was secure.
“And it’s still not secure quite yet so that’s where it’s been left. I played in some big games and in front of some big crowds, especially against the likes of Celtic and Rangers, and of course, the derbies with Hibernian.
“The passion from the fans was huge - you could feel the love from our supporters.”
Though he hasn’t featured for Australia for over four years, Bozanic hasn’t given up hope of forcing himself back into Graham Arnold’s World Cup equation on the road to Qatar 2022.
Arnold was in charge of the Mariners when Bozanic was making waves in the A-League a decade ago, and knows all about his attributes.
“Obviously I’d love to be a part of that national team set up still but that’s of course up to Arnie,” he said.
“It’s been a while since I was involved but I’m still hopeful an opportunity might come again at some stage.”