Melbourne City recruit Michael Zullo admits he has “unfinished business” in Europe and says he wanted to sign a one-year deal to get the best out of himself.
Zullo, 26, returned to the A-League with City on a one-year contract in July, after his final year with FC Utrecht was ruined by a season-long knee injury.
The left-sided defender/midfielder made a return to action in pre-season after almost 12 months out, against no less than Manchester City.
Zullo has added two FFA Cup appearances including a start against Wellington Phoenix and, while he is still re-building his match fitness, has his eyes firmly focused on Round One, readily stating the date and opponent without a moment’s hesitation.
The decision by City and Zullo to agree to only a one-year deal raised a few eyebrows, but the player said that was designed mutually by both parties to keep him on edge.
Without wanting to get ahead of himself, the former Brisbane Roar man concedes Europe was a consideration too.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have unfinished business over there. I definitely do,” Zullo told FourFourTwo.
“Finally in my last year at Utrecht, I was in the peak of my form and confidence, all the stars aligned, I had a coach that liked me, I had a position which was mine, but then I tore my ACL.
“That’s how it goes sometimes but I still feel I’m good enough for Europe. In saying that, you want to be somewhere you can perform at the peak of your powers and you can do a lot of things in the A-League.”
Zullo is buoyed by Ange Postecoglou’s reign as Socceroos coach whereby opportunities have been forthcoming for A-League based Australians.
Two-and-a-half years ago, Zullo was Australia’s starting left-back against Romania, but now he’s well behind the likes of Jason Davidson and Aziz Behich.
However, one strong campaign in the A-League, like he enjoyed two seasons ago on loan at Adelaide United, could open doors for him.
“Playing in the A-League doesn’t count you out of much anymore,” he said.
“You can still be a national team player, you can still get a good transfer, so there’s a lot of opportunities. I’m really happy to be at Melbourne City.”
He added: “Of course I think about the Socceroos. It’s the pinnacle of our game.
“It’s in the back of my head. It’s something I’m keen to get involved with again but there are things that need to happen first before I can get involved.
“My first priority is to stay fit and play well for Melbourne City and take my career to the maximum heights.”
Signing a one-year deal at City is all part of his bid to reach “maximum heights” again.
“I just wanted to be kept on my toes. I’m just backing myself to perform,” Zullo said.
“The safest thing would’ve been to have signed a multi-year deal, kicked back and taken my time.
“For me, this is a pivotal season in my career. I’m on that imaginary border line between middle age and young.
“The one-year deal keeps everything real. It keeps the pressure on me to perform week-in week-out.
“You know every game and every minute of training is important and I thrive under that pressure.”
— Michael Zullo (@MichaelZullo5) September 9, 2015