It might not have been the ideal time to come on – 5-0 down at a wet and dreary Cooks Square Park – but Daniel Alessi was just happy to be back on the field.
The 19-year-old made his comeback from knee surgery as a late substitute in the Jets youth team’s 6-1 loss to Maitland on Sunday.
In fact, the clouds parted and the sun came out just as he was warming up on the sidelines. Perhaps the gods were smiling on him.
The cameo off the bench marked another step on the comeback trail for the former Western Sydney defender who signed a two-year A-League contract with the Jets 12 months ago only to rupture an anterior cruciate ligament at training weeks later.
“I was happy to just get back on the field,” he told the Herald on Monday after making his club debut.
“It’s been a while. Not ideal circumstances, but probably a good way to come back in, a bit of a dead rubber, no pressure.
“It’s coming along quite well. The final match speed is probably the last thing I need to get, just from games.
“My aerobic fitness is pretty good. The last little change of direction and 1v1 defending stuff will probably take a few more weeks.”
Alessi made his A-League debut as a 16-year-old in 2014 under Wanderers coach Tony Popovic and signed a two-year contract a few months later.
He was released at the end of the 2015-16 season having played seven senior games, and now feels “100 per cent” that he owes the Jets for signing him then supporting him through his rehab.
“They put a lot of faith in me to bring me over here.
“For me now I have to work twice as hard to fulfil what I came here to do.”
Alessi was “shocked” when he went down with the knee injury last year.
“First long-term injury. I’d never probably been out for more than four weeks.
“It probably took a week or two for it to sink in, for me to realise what it was going to take for me to get back to playing again and how long.
“I was watching on from the stands the whole year. You find ways to appreciate football, and I think I will appreciate it even more now that I’m back.
“Just take every session, every game, as if it’s my last.”