NEW Melbourne Heart defender Patrick Kisnorbo has revealed some of the harsh lessons he learned in the United Kingdom.
Kisnorbo, 32, has spent the majority of his career playing in Scotland and England after moving abroad from South Melbourne in 2003.
The centre-back made 67 appearances for South Melbourne in the National Soccer League before being signed up to play for Heart of Midlothian in Scotland.
There, as a 22-year-old, he was introduced to the intense sectarian bitterness between clubs like Hearts and local Catholic-followed rivals, Hibs plus Celtic in Glasgow.
“I played for Hearts and they were a Protestant team,” Kisnorbo told Morning Glory on SEN. “When I first joined, I did the sign of the cross and I got pies thrown at me and coins.”
“I was a young boy naïve from Melbourne and I found out the hard way. It’s one of those things you’ve got to deal with but it’s settled down now.”
After two years at Hearts, Kisnorbo moved to Leicester City in England where he made over 100 appearances in the Championship and League One before being picked up by Leeds United.
There Kisnorbo spent four years, including a six-month loan spell at Ipswich Town which was something the defender found out about rather abruptly.
“You go on loan because you don’t play a lot of games and either you don’t play games or the manager wants you off the list,” said Kisnorbo.
“In my situation I went on loan for six months and the manager said to me 'Yep, pack your bags, you’re going down to Ipswich,' which is like a five hour drive and you’re like ‘When did this happen?’
“I was coming out on to the pitch to train so I had to get all my boots and kits back home. A lot of managers don’t do that but the manager I had did that to me and it wasn’t nice.”
Kisnorbo was welcomed with open arms by Ipswich manager Mick McCarthy, but not so much by his teammates.
“The manager was great but obviously the players are aware that you’re there to threaten their position,” he said. “You’re only going down to play, you’re not going down to be behind someone else.
“It’s a mixed reaction but that’s football in England. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. It’s not easy. Everyone thinks the fast cars and the big houses but it’s nothing like that.
“You’re always away from your family and you’re training all the time. You’re an Aussie in an English country, trying to take one of their jobs.”
Kisnorbo was in the frame to represent Australia at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but ruptured his Achilles just weeks out from the tournament.
But now with the 2014 World Cup finals approaching and A-League players in contention to get on the plane to Brazil, Kisnorbo hopes he can have one last swansong with the national team.
“I think there’s a lot more players playing in the A-League and Asia representing Australia than back in the old days. If you didn’t play in Europe then you weren’t even picked.” said Kisnorbo.
“I missed out on the last World Cup because I ruptured my Achilles so I’d love to get back in the team and have a last hit-out.
“Everyone wants to play for their country - and why not at the biggest stage in the world?”