After virtually being pushed out of Newcastle Jets, Craig Goodwin’s return to his home town of Adelaide has seen the winger turned left-back’s form and confidence return, and aspirations for a dream move to Europe and more national team honours are back on the agenda.
Last week Goodwin’s two assists helped Adelaide United achieve a dramatic last minute win against the Wellington Phoenix, and Goodwin says playing regular football under coach Josep Gombau has reignited his A-League career.
“For myself I’m very happy I made the move and I feel it was the best thing for my career,” Goodwin told FourFourTwo.
“I think the start I’ve had has been excellent, and I feel like I’m really progressing as a player here at Adelaide. I think from the team as a whole it’s been a great start and from me in particular I’ve managed to put myself in the starting position for the opening six games and I’m really enjoying the move so far.”
Even though Goodwin, who played 44 games for the Newcastle Jets was surplus to requirements at the start of the season, the two-time Socceroo feels no acrimony towards his former club.
In fact, Goodwin is empathetic to the Jets, who are currently struggling and without a win in their first six games.
“Of course for Newcastle Jets it is hard to see them struggling at the moment,” Goodwin said.
“I know the capability of the players they have there and I hope they can get things right and start putting in some good performances.
“At the time I never had any thoughts about leaving (Newcastle Jets) but when the opportunity came, I spoke to the people I trust most and after I talked to everyone, I felt like I did need to leave. I felt like I was becoming a bit stagnant at Newcastle and I felt I needed to progress as a player to be where I want to be, and that is eventually to play in Europe.”
There were amazing scenes late in the game at rain soaked Hindmarsh Stadium last week when deep in injury-time Goodwin put the cross into the box that led to Adelaide beating the Phoenix 2-1.
Was it divine intervention? Goodwin seems to think so...
“It was an amazing moment; I was on the cross to put it in, in the last minute,” Goodwin said.
“I was actually saying in my head, please God let us score. We had so many chances, especially from set pieces, and we got closer and closer and the ball just wouldn’t go in.
“It was starting to seem like it was going to be another game like we had against Sydney, we had countless amount of chances, but we just couldn’t put it in.
“So when the ball went into the back of the net, the stadium just erupted, you could see just what it meant to the players and the coaching staff, to get the win in front of our home fans, and the crowd there was about ten thousand in the rain and the noise that they made when the ball hit the back of the net was fantastic as well.
“And of course Gombau ran half the pitch to celebrate with the boys, which was nice as well.”
There were reports this week in the media that Gombau was sounded out by J.League club Yokahama F Marinos, but Goodwin claims the story has not made the playing group unstable with the Spaniard speaking to them and easing their minds about the situation.
“I don’t think it’s unsettled the players,” said Goodwin.
“The one thing he (Gombau) did say to us is he hasn’t been contacted by anyone, he’s not someone to leave halfway through the season. Which is great for us to know at the moment everyone at the club is just concentrating on the next game
“We just go about our playing and listen to what he has to say, he’s been a fantastic coach with us and I think everyone at the club will hope he stays.
“If there is actually anything going on there, then I think Gombau is close enough with the group that he would say anything to us if there was something going on.”
After playing three games in a week the FFA Cup finalists will have eight days rest before playing the Central Coast Mariners away on Sunday. Even though the Mariners are not in great form Goodwin is wary of the danger the home team can bring to the Reds' chances of victory.
“Firstly we focus on ourselves, it’s a good rest for us and we should be fresh coming up against the Central Coast,” Goodwin said.
“We back ourselves against anyone home and away and we’ll be looking to take away the three points. Of course we can’t take the game lightly regardless of how the Central Coast has gone on in the previous games, because at home it’s a much tougher task for us against them.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough game and Central Coast is a good side. They’ve been one of the standout teams throughout the whole competition over the last ten years. So we’ve got to be on our game, and I genuinely believe that if we are on our game and play to the best of our capabilities we can come away with the three points.”
At the end of Goodwin’s first season with Newcastle he made two appearances for the Socceroos at the EAFF East Asian Cup tournament in Seoul.
The 22-year-old made his debut against Japan playing two minutes off the bench, before starting and playing 90 minutes against China.
Making his way back in to the Socceroos frame is definitely a goal for this season.
“It’s something that is definitely in my aspirations that I’m trying to achieve to be able to play for the Socceroos on a regular basis,” said Goodwin.
“But again like everything I’m just focusing on the short term as you need to do.
“It’s something that you dream of as a kid so to be able to have that opportunity to do that and especially so early on in my career is fantastic, it just gives you that little bit of a taste and now it’s a matter of trying to get more and getting those caps on a regular basis.
Now playing with renewed confidence and getting consistent game time again, Goodwin’s aim of making that dream move to Europe is within his long-term sights.
“Playing in Europe is not something that I’m looking at right now, at the moment I’m just focusing in with Adelaide,” said Goodwin.
“I’m going to have to play regular football and to play well and to play good football as well. And I think I’ve been doing that at the moment in Adelaide and of course, and try to give myself the best possible chance to do that at some possible stage in the future.
“Growing up I’ve always wanted to play in the English Premier League that would be at the top of my list of places that eventually I’d like to make it to. Hopefully sometime in the future, then maybe that can happen.”