JOBE Wheelhouse has overcome a litany of career-threatening injuries during a decade in professional football, but a broken heart is another matter altogether.
In announcing yesterday he was leaving the Jets and taking an indefinite break, Wheelhouse said this was no spur-of-the-moment decision and his passion had been waning for the past six months.
But the suspicion remains that Wheelhouse was doing his best to remain diplomatic.
At his farewell media conference, the 27-year-old said he prided himself on ‘‘busting my arse’’ every time he took the field, at training and in games.
But apparently it became impossible to maintain that 100per cent commitment once he realised Jets officials had no intention of rewarding it with a contract extension.
Toronto boys don’t cry, but Wheelhouse is entitled to be disillusioned about how this has panned out.
In an era dominated by transient mercenaries, the feisty midfielder was something of a rarity in that he was emotionally attached to the club that paid his wages.
That was because he was born and bred in Newcastle, debuted in the national league at 17 and has spent his entire adult life trying to win games for his home-town team.
Since being appointed captain two years ago he has worn pride, as well as the skipper’s armband, on his sleeve.
He was living the dream.
Yet recent events have provided a reality check.
Wheelhouse might have been the team’s official leader, but the powers that be did not rate him worthy of a new deal.
Rather than offering an up-front appraisal of his retention prospects months ago, they left him to read between the lines, a task that became straightforward when Newcastle signed Zenon Caravella from Adelaide two weeks ago.
‘‘I’ve probably known in my gut for a month or so – I’m not stupid,’’ he said yesterday.
After signing Caravella, Jets coach Gary van Egmond insisted Wheelhouse was still in his plans and would not be released early to accept a deal at Melbourne Heart.
But when Wheelhouse approached the coach privately seeking some clarity, he came away with the message he was unlikely to be re-signed and was free to join another club if he wished.
It did not take him long to reach the realisation that ‘‘I was doing more harm than good being around’’.
Wheelhouse said yesterday that his relationship with van Egmond remained ‘‘fine’’.
‘‘That’s football – we move on,’’ he said.
Van Egmond gets paid to make such unenviable calls.
And it is not the first time he has delivered shattering news to Wheelhouse. In 2008, he left him out of Newcastle’s grand-final-winning squad.
‘‘It’s quite hard to compare the two,’’ Wheelhouse said.
‘‘It’s not fun times, that’s for sure.’’
Wheelhouse is young enough to believe his best football is still ahead of him, albeit in different surroundings.
But first his broken heart must heal, and that may prove easier said than done.