FORMER Wellington and Western Sydney midfielder Reece Caira has no ambitions to mount a comeback to professional football through his time with Valentine.
The 24-year-old is more worried about getting fit and cracking into the high-flying Phoenix’s starting XI.
Caira, who lives and works on the Central Coast, has signed with Valentine and will likely debut off the bench against Rosebud at Adamstown Oval on Saturday.
The left-footer, a product of the Aston Villa youth development program, played two games off the bench for Wanderers in 2012-13 and started in 10 of 11 appearances for Wellington the following season.
But that was the end of professional football for the former under-20 and under-23 Australian representative, who played a year with Bonnyrigg in the NSW NPL before half a season with Gosford City alongside his mates in 2016.
“I haven’t played 90 minutes of football in probably 12 months,” Caira said. “So I’m excited just to get back in the swing of things, and it’s an exciting time to be back, coming to the end of the season that it’s going to be.
“Obviously it’s going to take me some time to get my legs going again, but hopefully I’ll be fit and ready for the finals.”
Now with an established career in real estate, Caira said he had moved on from dreams of professional football.
“I was at that stage in life where I was looking to buy properties and with football, it’s a cut-throat industry,” he said. “I was at a crossroads where I had to get into a career for the next 20-30 years or keep slogging it out in footy and go through contracts where you don’t know what’s happening.”
Caria, though, was keen to get back in the game at NPL level and he had been impressed with Valentine at training in recent weeks.
“The boys are good,” he said.
“There’s some skilful players and it’s going to be tough to break into the starting 11 there, which is good. It should be a good end to the season.”
Caira and former Jaffa Luke Willard have joined Valentine for the final third of the season, while Zac Sneddon is leaving for US college football.
Coach Darren Sills was excited to have Caira on board and hoped he would pave the way for more former top-level players to join Valentine.
“It's great for our club,” Sills said.
“It’s only our second year back in the NPL and with the success we've had on the park, all of a sudden people want to come our way, which is great.
“Hopefully now we’ll do the right thing by Reece, he enjoys his stay and that might attract other people. It might open up a few doors down the track for Valo.”
He also believed the additions this week would help the club in their quest for a fairytale premiership.
“Just having that competition for spots, it adds a bit more spice to training and game days,” he said.
“Now with two more players there, it’s got to be healthy for the club.”