Rostyn Griffiths says he is looking forward to a big season with new Dutch club Roda JC Kerkrade after an eight-year absence from European football.
Former Perth Glory midfielder Griffiths has joined Roda on a one-year deal with the option for a further second.
Griffiths came through the academy at English side Blackburn Rovers, spending time on loan at Gretna and Accrington Stanley, before moving to the A-League in 2009.
Several Australians have played at Roda in the past, including former Socceroos Zeljko Kalac at the turn of the century, and Graham Arnold and Gary van Egmond in the early 1990s.
“When I decided about six months ago that I wanted to go back to Europe I looked at a couple of countries that I thought would be beneficial to me,” Griffiths told FourFourTwo.
“And it pretty much went in the order of Germany, Holland and England. Fortunately Roda showed interest early on and obviously they needed somebody in my position so it worked out well.
“I knew Arnie had played there but apart from that I didn’t have a huge knowledge of the club’s history to be honest. I knew a little bit about the Dutch Eredivisie as Australians have gone there and done well in the past.”
Griffiths had spent some time on trial at Birmingham City in the past few weeks, making two appearances for the Championship club, but was not offered a contract.
“I had a lot of interest from the UK because I had been there previously,” he said.
“I flew into the UK and started training with Birmingham. It was a good experience. They’re obviously a massive club but the biggest thing I’ll take out of it was number one, fitness, and number two just confidence that I can sort of play back at the senior European level.”
Roda has just been promoted back into the Eredivisie and appointed Darije Kalezic as its new manager last month.
“Last year apparently it was the first time in the club’s history that they had been relegated,” Griffiths said.
“So it’s not good enough from the club’s point of view and the fan’s point of view. This season they’re looking to make the team a bit stronger, they’ve brought a new coach to try and survive in the Eredivise because, by all accounts, the club’s got a pretty good history in the league.
“Both parties agreed that a one-year deal was best to see how it all goes. If I hit certain targets in games and things like that then the second year will kick in.”
Griffiths made 25 appearances for the Glory last season, scoring three goals, but Perth was stripped of a finals berth because of salary cap infringements.
“It’s a shame,” the 27-year-old said. “From a player’s point of view how it ended last season was disappointing, but I’m sure the club will want to move on from that and for the players to build for this season.
“With salary cap restrictions and things like that it’s going to be difficult to attract players to Perth at the moment. So the types of players they’re bringing in are young players that want to try and prove themselves in the league.
“So it’s probably going to be a tough season for Perth but they’ve got enough quality in other positions to challenge for at least the playoffs this season I believe.”
Regular game-time in Holland could put the central midfielder in the frame for national team selection, but Griffiths is not focused on that.
“The Socceroos is always an ambition but I was at that crossroads on whether to go to Europe to try and get that highest level I possibly can or stay in Australia or go to Asia and get as much cash as I possibly could,” he said.
“I chose the first option because I think I’m a bit better than that at the moment and I sort of thought if I don’t do it now then I’ll be too old to do it. I just wanted to get back to Europe and see the highest level I could get to.
“I believe Holland is the best, if not one of the best, places for me to do that.”