Sydney FC star Michael Zullo has revealed the driving force behind his rehabilitation from a calf injury, as the defender re-joined the squad to continue his recovery at training on Monday.
Detailing the mental and physical battle the three-time Premiership and Championship winner has had to overcome, it was one family thought in particular that inspired Zullo to push for a return in Season 2021/22.
“The body is feeling awesome,” Zullo said.
“I don’t want to speak too soon, we’re taking our time and making sure everything is perfect but at the moment it’s going great.
“One of the things that hit me hardest last year was that I love playing football, we’re very lucky we get to go out every day and play football as a job, and that was taken away from me and replaced with something I hate and that’s being injured and not being able to do anything.
“It was at the point where I couldn’t play with my kids, couldn’t go for a walk with my wife, I was very limited in what I could do and it affected my life in general,” he continued.
“It was a really challenging time to be honest and I had to really dig deep to see what I wanted to do.
“I didn’t want to look back on this period in a couple of years and have any regrets. It’s what I like to focus on, and I don’t want to have any regrets in what I do.
“That’s what’s kept fueling me and to be honest I wanted my young boys to be able to watch me play football and that’s something that’s driven me this whole rehab process and continues to drive me.
“I’m not sure that I would have had the same amount of drive had I not had the boys to think about and had that vision of them watching me play football, that’s what’s kept me going.”
Zullo said it was refreshing to be back amongst the banter within the squad as he continues his recovery alongside the team on the training pitch.
The left back said he’s targeting a return for the start of Season 2021/22 as he thanked his family for their support over the last six months during his rehabilitation process.
“It’s the same old faces making the same old jokes,” Zullo said.
“It’s probably the part of professional football that’s the most enjoyable and the part I missed the most while I’ve been doing rehab is having a bit of banter with the boys and enjoying our company.
“It’s been a hard slog and there’s been times where I wasn’t sure if I was going to come out alright but at the moment it feels great and I’m building towards being healthy for the start of the season,” he continued.
“I had to stay strong mentally and physically and with the support from my wife and family in Brisbane they’ve given me a lot of support in the last 6 months to keep me going and I’m super happy with where I’m at and the fact I can contribute and be a part of things.
“As a parent now the way I view things has changed a lot. I know inside myself I’ve worked extremely hard over the last three or four months mentally and physically.
“It’s been a real battle but I’m in a really good position, I’m as happy as ever and I’m looking forward to being able to perform again and reap the rewards of all the work I’ve put in.”
Sydney FC are back in pre-season training ahead of the new A-League season, scheduled to kick off in October.