JETS recruit Eli Babalj admits his career hasn't "worked out" as the striker had hoped but the forgotten man of Australian football believes he is finally in the right environment to succeed.
What's more, he has a full pre-season under his belt to launch from.
After a three-month trial, Babalj, 29, has signed a one-year deal at the Jets, bringing an end to a series of short-terms deals.
"I don't like to look back, but the last five clubs I have been at I have signed mid-season or towards the end of the season.," Babalj said. "You come in underdone, and going into a group mid-season, it is hard to catch up.
"That is why I am really enjoying this. I have three months' training under my belt with six weeks to go. I can only get better. That is what I have missed in the past few years - a proper pre-season."
Babalj has also enjoyed the reunion with Jets coach Arthur Papas.
"Arthur has known me since we were at the AIS," Babalj said. "He knows how to get the best out of me.
"That is really important for a player, having that confidence. I don't think anyone has enjoyed pre-season as much as me. It's a grind but it is all football. You don't think about how hard it is because it is all football and all specific, and working on the way we want to play."
Babalj most recently played for Chainat Hornbill in the Thai second division, where he scored one goal in seven appearances.
It is a far cry from his early days. Having burst onto the scene with Melbourne Heart in 2011, Bablj made his debut for the Socceroos as a teenager before a dream move to Europe at Red Star Belgrade.
Since then, the 195cm centre-forward has bounced around leagues in Europe and Asia in between a couple of major injuries.
"Football is all I have known since I was a young kid," he said. "When you have had it taken away with injuries and being off contract and without a club, you realise how much it means to you.
"I was grateful for achieving such highs early on in my career but unfortunately things didn't work out as I would have hoped.
"I still have a lot to give and hopefully this pre-season puts me in good stead. Football means so much to mean. I am grateful for this opportunity and I really want to prove wrong people who have doubted me. First and foremost, give everything I can for the people who have trust and belief in me, and that is this club and the manager."
Babalj is part of a new-look front third spearheaded by Georgian international Beka Mikeltadze and fellow imports Olivier Boumal (Cameroon), Savvas Siatravanis (Greece) and Daniel Penha (Brazil).
"The way we are trying to play, it is very exciting and there will be many chances," Babalj said. "As a team, whether it is me or whoever scoring goals, it is a collective. The main thing is winning.
"My height brings a different dimension to the team. But the way we want to play, we want the ball on the floor and zipping it around. People who know me, know I want it to feet, play around the corner, play one-twos, combination plays. The height can add something different but the main thing is playing good football down on the floor."
IN THE NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content: