MATT Millar hasn't given up on a career in England, but for now the high velocity wingback's focus is on Newcastle and helping propel the Jets up the A-League table.
Millar is halfway through a 14-day quarantine period in a Perth hotel after a frantic, late-night dash across England to catch a flight to Australia.
In his first interview since arriving back in the country, Millar confirmed that he had contracted - and recovered from - COVID 19 in the final days of his loan stint at League One club Shrewsbury Town.
While he hopes to return to the United Kingdom at the end of the season, the whole-hearted 24-year-old is doing everything possible to make sure he hits the ground running for the Jets.
"I'm in pretty good shape," Millar said. "Jets strength and condition coach Brice Johnson has been awesome. He arranged an exercise bike for me in the room and sent an express package with fitness bands and other things to keep me busy. I'm lucky that naturally I'm pretty fit. I came from two degrees in Shrewsbury and hopefully it won't take me too long to acclimatise and get used to the heat again. I'm looking forward to training with the Jets.
"I have been watching the games every week. I spoke to Craig Deans the other day and said the way the boys had been playing, they deserved a lot more than they had. They just had to find a way to win, which they did against Wellington. Hopefully we can get on a roll."
Millar's loan deal expired on December 31, but due to COVID restrictions and the reduction in flights into Australia, he feared he could be stuck in England for months.
"There were on-going talks between the Jets and Shrewsbury and other clubs over there,"he said. "But it got to the stage where it looked like nothing was going to happen. We had a look at flights to see what we could get and it looked like mid-March was going to be the first flight I could get on.
"Lawrie McKinna put me on to a travel agent, Rob Wilkinson, who is [Sydney FC captain] Alex Wilkinson's dad. He called me at 1am and said I have a flight for you that leaves in six hours from London. I packed up the house and got a train at 4am. It was such a rush. Luckily everything went smoothly."
Millar spent the majority of his time in England in lockdown.
"It was quite difficult," he said. "I was out of lockdown for the first two weeks, but then it got progressively worse. We were confined to our apartments and had to come to training dressed in our gear and then go straight home afterwards. In the sense of everyday life, it was pretty tough, especially being away from friends and family."
The spread of the virus really hit home when Millar woke up "with a bit of cough".
"I didn't think much of it but went in and got tested just in case," he said. "It turned out to be COVID. The symptoms were pretty mild and I shook it off in a few days, which was good. I got tested again after 10 days and it was negative. It was just a shock because I didn't have massive symptoms."
Despite the diagnosis and the impact the virus had on lifestyle, the experience only whetted Millar's appetite for more.
"I really enjoyed my time in England in general," he said. "The football is great. It's a really different experience with 18 teams in the league. There were FA Cup games and EFL cup games mid week. My game suits the style of football over there and I had some good performances. I was really keen to press on there because I think there is an opportunity to work your way up the leagues. It was a bit disappointing when an agreement couldn't be reached [between the Jets and Shrewsbury].
"I guess, everything happens for a reason. I am a big believer in that.
"With the conditions over there, it was the right thing to come home and let everything cool off. Maybe I can go back in June for a pre-season when I am a free agent. I will put my head down here with the Jets and hopefully the rest will take care of itself."
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