From Russia with no love - Ivan Franjic glad to be back home
FOOTBALL: Socceroos defender Ivan Franjic is happy to be back in familiar territory as he prepares to re-launch his career with Melbourne City, even though a quad injury threatens to sideline him for the opening game against Sydney FC on Saturday night.
Like most young footballers growing up in Australia, Franjic aspired to ply his trade overseas, and after a strong display for Australia at last year's World Cup in Brazil, accepted a three-year contract to play for newly-promoted Russian Premier League club Torpedo Moscow.
But after getting just three starts in seven months, and not being paid, he decided enough was enough, signing a three-year deal with City.
"Of course not getting paid was disappointing, but I just had to deal with it the best way I could at the time," the 27-year-old told APN.
"It's all in FIFA's hands now, and if I don't get paid there's nothing else I can do about it."
To add injury to insult, Franjic also had several soft tissue problems to deal with in Russia, but unfortunately the club had precious few resources in its medical department.
"It was a hard time over there, especially when the club didn't have a physio, translator or conditioning coach to help me out," he said.
"But those experiences only make you stronger.
"There are no regrets at all about going over there - I chose to do it.
He also chose to link with Melbourne City, which has promised plenty but delivered little since beginning life in the A-League as Melbourne Heart in 2009.
But the two-time championship winner with Brisbane Roar said he was confident that would change this season.
"We've had a great pre-season and the belief is there that we can win a championship - the whole squad has been training and gelling well," Franjic said.
"John van't Schip is a great coach and he's one of the main reasons why I decided to come here."
The quad injury has also kept the defender out of the Socceroos squad for the past three World Cup qualifiers, and he will also Friday morning's clash with Jordan in Amman.
He said he would be doing all he could to prove his fitness for the next match against Kyrgyzstan in Canberra on November 12, by which stage he will have hopefully played a handful of games for City, including the FFA Cup semi-final against Perth Glory on October 21.
"I just want to get back on the park at the moment, but you always aim to play for your country," he said.