Central Coast goalkeeper Liam Reddy admits he almost lost his love for the game before his remarkable road to redemption culminated in winning the Mariners Medal.
The 32-year-old's tale is one of the A-League's most remarkable - crowned the Mariners’ best player for 2013-14 after his career took a nosedive two years ago when a boozy plane trip to an away game led to his Sydney FC sacking.
Reddy told FourFourTwo he had plenty to prove to people when he got his A-League “second chance” at the Mariners in October, having not played in the competition since being dumped by the Sky Blues.
After spells at four different A-League clubs, his acrimonious exit from the Sydney left Reddy’s career in tatters, leading him to make the unusual move to Iran to join powerhouse Esteghlal on a one-year deal as their back-up keeper.
Away from his wife and children, Reddy returned to Australia after only six months in Iran, frustrated also by the club’s failure to pay wages on time. But he re-discovered his love for the game at Sydney United before he got his chance in Gosford.
“Going back to United was the best thing for me,” Reddy told FourFourTwo.
“I got a bit of love back for the game which had probably waned in the last two years in the A-League.
“I really enjoyed playing under Mark Rudan and getting back to training with younger kids, to see their drive and hunger, it had an effect on me too.
“But there wasn’t any guarantees I’d get a chance back in the A-League.”
Reddy’s success at the Mariners this term shows his career has come full circle and he is glowing in his praise for Central Coast chairman Peter Turnbull, coaches Graham Arnold and Phil Moss who offered him the lifeline.
However, the experienced shot-stopper’s most pertinent praise was directed at goalkeeping coach John Crawley who he believes can guide him to career-best form despite being the wrong side of 30.
“I feel this is the best year I’ve had for a long time,” said Reddy, who inked a two-year extension with Central Coast in March.
“I came here in October, so I’ve only had seven months to work with John Crawley.
“I feel with another two years here he’ll definitely improve me and I can’t wait to have a full pre-season with John and the team.”
A-League nomad Reddy referenced Crawley’s past success with Danny Vukovic and Mat Ryan and articulated how his coaching helped get the best out of him.
“I felt fresh going into every game this year,” Reddy said.
“I’ve played at some clubs and going into the weekend I haven’t felt fresh with training loads and what we get out of training. That was a key factor.
“I knew coming here he’d get the best out of my game and improve me as a footballer.
“A lot of credit for my year has to go to him. His way of coaching was a bit new to me, but I felt I adapted to it quite well.”
Reddy added he felt he may never have got another A-League shot had he not cut short his time in Iran, despite having another six months to run on his contract.
“If I’d stayed over there more than six months I might have been forgotten about over here,” Reddy said.
“It was the best thing for me to come back and play at Sydney United, and I’m grateful for Graham Arnold, John Crawley and Phil Moss.
“This year I had a lot to prove to people. I was very grateful they gave me a second chance in the A-League. I thought I took it with both hands.”
Reddy and the Mariners will enjoy a break over the next month, before commencing pre-season training in mid-July.comments