JESSE Pinto is determined to put a nightmare A-League debut behind him and prove to Jets coach Gary van Egmond that he has what it takes to make it as a professional footballer.
Pinto, 18, came off the bench in the 67th minute before he was sensationally hooked in the 83rd minute of the Jets' 2-0 loss to Adelaide at Hindmarsh Stadium on Friday night.
To rub salt in the wounds, van Egmond described the youngster as the "worst player out there" when explaining his decision to replace the midfielder in a post-match television interview.
"That is probably the toughest lesson I have learnt in football," Pinto told The Herald yesterday.
"I will cop it on the chin and hopefully, if I get another chance, next time I will take it a bit better.
"This week at training I am going to work as hard as I can to get in the squad again.
"I'm not going to put my head down. I want to get back in the squad.
"If I take any other approach, I may as well hang up the boots."
Van Egmond's actions brought a chorus of criticism led by Fox Sports commentator and former Adelaide and Wellington captain Ross Aloisi.
"If he is not injured that is one of the most demoralising things that could ever happen to you, that you get taken off," Aloisi said during the call.
Fans also expressed their disgust on football websites, and some even called for van Egmond's head.
Pinto said he was surprised when the fourth official held up the board signalling he was to be replaced by Kaz Patafta.
"I thought it was a mistake but it wasn't, so I just have to cop it on the chin," he said. "It was a mixture of emotions watching the end of the game from the bench. I didn't know if I had done something wrong. I thought I played all right. I nearly scored."
Van Egmond did not return The Herald's calls last night.
After the match, van Egmond said the decision to replace Pinto was done with the player's well-being in mind.
"He was having a very torrid time and was getting less and less confident," van Egmond said at the post-match press conference.
"I thought rather than prolong the agony for the kid, take him off and put someone else on.
"There are two chains of thought, you can leave them out there and let them try and grind through, which can be detrimental, or you can try and save him. That's what I tried to do."
Pinto came on in the 67th minute for fellow teenager and debutant Brodie Mooy with the Jets trailing 1-0.
He went close to scoring an equaliser two minutes later, getting inside Adelaide defender Scott Jamieson to meet an Adam D'Apuzzo cross with a diving header that grazed the outside of the right post.
But from there things went pear-shaped, and he turned possession over four times in five minutes.
Neither van Egmond or assistant Mark Jones offered a hand to Pinto when he left the field, but both spoke with him in the sheds after the match.
"Dutchy said the same thing to me as he did in the press conference about why he replaced me," Pinto said. "He told me to keep my head up and when I get another opportunity to make the most of it.
"A lot of the senior boys also offered support. Thommo [Matt Thompson] came up and had a chat as did Tarek [Elrich].
"They told me to keep my head up and that this does not mean it is the end of the line."
A two-time Australian Schoolboys representative, Pinto moved to Newcastle from Blacktown on a youth league contract this season.
"Even with the weekend, my year with the Jets has been good," he said.
"I'm a Sydney boy and they gave me an opportunity to come and play youth league.
"I sat on the [first team] bench for the Perth game and they obviously gave me an opportunity on the weekend.
"My game has developed under [youth team coach] Craig Deans and I have also learnt a lot from Dutchy and Jonesy.
"The Jets have been very good for me.
"I'm contracted for this year, but they have shown interest for next year whether that be in the youth or senior squad and I'm keen to stay."
Jets chairman Con Constantine said he was surprised Pinto was replaced but supported van Egmond's decision.
"You've always got to allow the coach to use his judgement, at the end of the day," Constantine said.
"He's the coach and sees it differently to how you and I might see the game.
"Maybe I would have thought it was a little bit mean not giving him more time, but Gary saw that at that particular time the player wasn't performing.
"Also remember, sometimes in life, things like that make you a stronger person. Next time around, he might remember this and do things the way the coach wants.
"I'm not blaming the kid, but every time in life you get a knock-back, you always come out stronger."