EXCLUSIVE: Sydney keeper Vedran Janjetovic says his shock axing on game day last season after being caught up in Sydney’s notorious traffic is a bitter lesson he’ll never forget.
The talented 26-year-old was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic outside Allianz Stadium in the hours before the Sky Blues faced Melbourne Victory last March.
The keeper was late getting into Allianz Stadium as a result and Sydney coach Frank Farina duly dropped the shattered glovesman for breaking team protocol.
Farina reinstated Ivan Necevski in goals and the one-time Newcastle Jets keeper took his opportunity.
Janjetovic didn’t get a look in for the remainder of the season. A tough lesson was learnt from the incident, said Janjetovic.
“What can I say?” he told au.fourfourtwo.com still hurting from the incident. “Not to give away everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve.
"All my hard work and sacrificed for, I just don’t want to give it away that easy. That's what I learnt.
“The whole situation – I won’t say it was out of my control – but when I think about it there were a 1000 things I could’ve done.
“I was panicking at the time. It took me 45 minutes to get around the stadium. I was just in no-man’s land. I was gutted.
“I wasn’t even in my own car. If it was my car, I would’ve left it on the side of the road and just ran in.
“I just wasn’t too sure about leaving someone else’s car. My parents were lagging at home so I said I’m not going to wait for you anymore And yet they got to the game before I did!”
Janjetovic had been enjoying an excellent season to date. But in the space of an hour it all went wrong for him.
He later explained to Farina the situation.
“I made it clear to him it’s not going to happen again," he said. "It was gutting. That day and every other week after it.”
But that was last season. As Sydney eye a new season, it’s unclear who now holds the number one keeper in the eyes of coach Farina.
When asked, Janjetovic says he knows as much as the media who’ll take the number one jersey this season.
“You’re asking the wrong bloke," he said. "And I wouldn’t have a clue when they decide it, to be honest. I’ve just got to work even harder to get that number one jersey.”
It’s an even contest with Farina facing a difficult task choosing who will be number one for Sydney FC this season.
However Janjetovic says he’s the fittest he’s ever been after the club’s arduous Italian tour with an estimated 56 training sessions undertaken during the 21-day trip in August.
Aside from a few trips to Venice the squad were put through the ringer.
“I’ve never been on a trip like that before. It was hard mentally as you’re with the same people for the whole trip 24-7 in each other’s pockets all the time,” Janjetovic said.
“You do kinda want your own space. Like being on tour with a band! It was different but definitely a good experience that brought the team closer together,” he said.
He added the hysteria over Sydney’s marquee man Alessandro Del Piero took him by surprise.
“I knew he was big but it was crazy; people chasing after buses, turning up to training, we even had about 500,000 people turn out for a public event. They were wearing Sydney colours too.
"It was unlike anything I’ve seen in my life. They love him, they worship him.”
Del Piero gives the Sydney FC brand a global appeal. And their superstar is due back in Sydney this Saturday to complete the club’s final stages of preparations for season nine of the A-League.
This morning, the Sky Blues unveiled their new adidas kit with Janjetovic saying he chose the keeper kit colours in consultation with Necevski.
The pair will wear a red kit as well as a yellow version.
“If the yellow is anything like this red kit, it’ll be even brighter,” he joked.
It’s understood the new team kits were signed off by former Sky Blues CEO Dirk Melton.
Janjetovic for his part had a preference.
He added: “I don’t know about the stripes [on the away kit]. I think the home one is better.”