For the all the players who have come and gone in the A-League, Adrian Leijer is not one many would have forgotten.
At a time when Melbourne Victory were just about unbeatable, a young Leijer marshalled the team from the back and was looked upon as an exciting prospect on his way to bigger things.
Leijer’s performance in Victory’s 2006/07 Premiership and Championship double caught the eye of Fulham FC, who the 21-year-old at the time would go on to sign for.
Though things quickly turned for the young defender whose only senior appearances in the UK came during a loan spell at Norwich, being unable to break into the senior Fulham squad.
Now retired, Leijer reflects on his time in the UK with pride having had to overcome and adapt to new challenges and circumstances.
“It was a real eye opener going to England,” Leijer said.
“Looking back I think I went too high too early but it’s easy to say that now,
“It was an amazing experience and I certainly faced a lot of challenges more so off the park,
“But when I look back I can say I had a crack,
“Even though it didn’t work out I’m proud I went and had a go.”
Leijer returned home to Melbourne Victory where he made 135 appearances and was involved in a second Championship before moving abroad to China and South Korea, where he ended his career.
While the 32-year-old did receive interest from Melbourne Victory as well as the newly appointed Western Melbourne Group to return to the A-League, he believes it was time he retired and begun a new chapter in his life.
“I’ve been in contact with Victory over the last few years but anything ever came of it,” Leijer said.
“For me they would’ve been I only club I’d come to play for,
“The likelihood of me playing in the A-League wasn’t very high,
“In saying that, the Western Melbourne Group caught my attention but you just have to be honest with yourself,
“I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I had previously and I was enjoying my studies a lot more,
“I just thought it was the right time to bring my family home and start a new career.”