MITCHELL Johnson walked away from a $100,000 job in the mining industry in November to revive a lifelong passion soccer.The 25-year-old gave up the security of a well-paid job to play semi-professionally for Leichhardt in the NSW Premier League, barely earning enough to cover travel expenses.Today the industrious midfielder is one of three Novocastrians alongside Peter Haynes and Joel Wood trialling for a place in the Newcastle Jets squad for the Asian Champions League.If successful, Johnson's career will have come full circle.A graduate of the Australian Institute of Sport who made his National League debut at just 17, Johnson was a victim of the impasse between the NSL and the A-League.A trial in France amounted to nothing, and when the A-League materialised Johnson was surprisingly overlooked for a place in the Jets inaugural squad.At 21 and with 70 national league games under his belt, he literally disappeared from the football landscape."When I missed out on the Jets I got a bit disillusioned," he said."I had a property to pay for and had to make a choice."He played a couple of seasons for Highfields Azzurri but work commitments impacted on his training, and in the end he played park football for Mayfield.Meanwhile, his former AIS teammates Matt McKay and Alex Brosque were forging careers in the A-League."I had a good talk with my parents and decided to give it one more shot," Johnson said."I quit my job and signed with Leichhardt."After three-and-a-half years in the mines I had enough money to live off for a while and decided to devote full-time to football."With two new teams coming into the A-League, I thought now was the time."I could have played locally, but not many A-league teams look there for players. I wanted to get back into an environment of training all the time so I joined Leichhardt under Paul Okon."After three months of pre-season I am getting close to peak fitness."I have week trial with the Jets and intend to give it everything I can."Jet coach Gary van Egmond was assistant coach to Ian Crook when Johnson burst onto the national scene in 2001."I have always had a high opinion of him," van Egmond said."He comes from a pedigree background having been through the AIS."He has chucked his job in and wants to concentrate solely and wholly on his football and give himself the best chance he possibly can."You have to commend his commitment."Haynes and Wood have previously trained with the Jets, and van Egmond said there was an opportunity for all three."Some of them fall through the net, and this is a second chance," the coach said."It is important that we have people who really want to play for the club."These three boys are all local and have a lot of pride in the town and the shirt."I think that goes a long way."Dutch striker Donny de Groot and former Melbourne FC defender Ljubo Milicevic, who put pen to paper on one-year deals yesterday, will train for the first time with their new club today.The registration cut-off date for the ACL is six days away and van Egmond hopes to have at least another two players on the books."I'm still very hopeful of getting a marquee player plus another one or two," he said.