CODY Carroll will read over and remember the advice from his greatest supporter, his late father Damian, as he prepares to reignite his footballing dream in Broadmeadow’s FFA Cup round of 16 clash with Bentleigh Greens at Magic Park on Tuesday night (7.30pm).
Carroll, 21, was one of the Newcastle Jets’ brightest prospects two years ago before glandular fever and the loss of his father to cancer derailed his career.
With help from Broadmeadow and coach Ruben Zadkovich, Carroll has put his life on and off the pitch back on track and in turn helped Magic reach the biggest game in their history.
For the Jets’ 2016 youth player of the year, the game against the Victorian NPL side, who beat Wellington Phoenix in the round of 32, is also a chance to revive his shot at professional football.
Carroll said he struggled for motivation in chasing a football career after the loss of his dad, who was also his junior coach, but he was now “not going to stop until I get there”.
Sport: The Newcastle Jets
“I used it as an excuse at the start, for a lack of motivation,” Carroll said. “Now I’m using it as more of a motivation and an inspiration. Before I go into games now, I know what he would say to me, and I use that as motivation when I’m out there.
“He would tell me to score goals, shoot, just take it on, be positive and show everyone what you’ve got. I’ve got letters from him that he left me when he was sick and I read over them all the time.
“He always had good advice. He was always there for me when things went downhill.”
Carroll played a key role in the round of 32 win over Canberra FC after coming on early for James Virgili (hamstring). He said Magic were “buzzing” for the chance to become the first Northern NSW club into the knockout’s last eight.
Zadkovich said Virgili remains in doubt for the clash, Broadmeadow’s first in the round of 16, and he was set to have a fitness test on Tuesday. Magic will otherwise be full strength for the game and Zadkovich said Carroll was likely to start after his display against Canberra.
“I said to him he would play a big role because we would need to change the game at some point, and I needed that versatility that he has and he’s a smart player,” Zadkovich said of Carroll in the Canberra game.
“It was hard to keep him out of the team because he’s playing so well, but I told him to trust me because he would have a role to play.
“He came on earlier than I thought, but he changed the game. He’s learning and growing and I’m putting a lot of myself into his game and his development as a person as well.
“And because his attitude is so good, he’s just going from strength to strength. In that game, he was fantastic.”
Carroll, a customer service officer for Integratedliving Australia, was grateful for the support at Magic.
“Ruben’s been great,” he said.
“From the first chat we had, we just clicked and he’s been a huge supporter, just making sure the personal life’s in order. Everything football runs off that.
“I’ve had ups and down. Two years ago everything was going up. I was NYL player of the year, I started training with the first team and was selected to go to China for the pre-season tour.
“There was one spot left for a pro youth contract and there was a few of us fighting for it. I thought I was a good chance. I was really excited and went over to China and got glandular fever the first day over there.
“That put me out for a few weeks and I got sick again when I just got back to fitness. I was out for three to four months, and missed a large chunk of the season. In between all that, Dad was terminally ill with cancer and he passed away when I was sick.
“It was a bit of a struggle to keep motivated. It was downhill from there.
“I’ve tried to focus on getting better first, and get my personal life in order before football.
“Now I’m happy, the personal life is going well, I’ve got a good job and my football is starting to blossom a little bit.
“I’ve started to really have that motivation now to try and go further with football and see how far I can go.
“I’m not going to stop until I get there.”
Carroll moved from Leeton in the Riverina when he was 12 to attend Hunter Sports High and live with billeted families.
His family, including his four siblings, made the move to Newcastle two years later. They will be at Magic Park on Tuesday night cheering him on, and his father will be firmly in his thoughts.
“Dad and I had a good bond growing up,” Carroll said.
“Everyone said we had the same personality, we had the same birthday and we celebrated together every year.
“He was a huge supporter. He was an Aussies rules player but he learned about football and coached me in juniors. He even ended up playing because we did.”