Jason Geria puts club before personal honours
JASON Geria has extra motivation to ensure Melbourne Victory lifts the A-League championship trophy on Sunday night.
In 2015, when Victory swept to a third title with a 3-0 grand final win at AAMI Park, Geria was only a bit-part player, coming on in injury time.
This year couldn't be any more different.
Geria is a crucial cog in coach Kevin Muscat's plans, having played 26 of the club's 28 games this season.
He will start again on Sunday.
That was something that had appeared to be on the cards for Geria at times two seasons ago, only to lose his spot at right back to Victory's ultimate utility, Leigh Broxham, leading into the finals.
"Because we hadn't won anything in so long, I think I was more content to just play my role in 2015," Geria said.
"At the time, Broxy was playing in my position and doing really well, so I couldn't complain about that, he earned it.
"But definitely this time it's motivation to play a bigger part in, potentially, a championship.
"Having said that, I'd still place us winning it over me necessarily playing a massive role.
"The bigger picture is the club and its success."
Far from deflated by the late-season demotion two years ago, the hard-working Geria bounced back last season with a campaign that catapulted him into Ange Postecoglou's Socceroos calculations.
Last March he was called into camp for two World Cup qualifiers against Tajikistan and Jordan before he made his international debut in a friendly against Greece in June.
This season hasn't been as smooth, however.
His own harshest critic, Geria is the first to admit 2016-17 hasn't been his best campaign.
But the affable 23-year-old insists his love for the game hasn't been dented as he learns to navigate his way through the rollercoaster ride of being a professional soccer player.
"Football is going to be like that," he said.
"There are going to be ups and downs, that's a part of it.
"I think it's a bit hard to accept that that's part of it sometimes - and when you're going through tough times it can be a bit hard - but soon you realise that it's just part of the game.
"You've just got to keep working hard."