For Giancarlo Gallifuoco a move back to Melbourne Victory was an offer too good to decline.
Gallifuoco was released by the Mariners allowing the Victory to snap up the 26-year-old in the final hours of the transfer window – days after losing defender Thomas Deng to Japanese giants Urawa Red Diamonds.
Gallifuoco became a regular in Alen Stajcic’s Central Coast Mariners side this season but says the offer to return to Melbourne, where he could be part of the side’s Asian Champions League campaign was a “pivotal” part of the deal.
“[Champions League] was pivotal for me,” he said.
“Last time I was here I was able to feature and it was a life changer for me. I think it’s an amazing competition and when this opportunity was brought up to me that was probably the most important factor, so I’m hoping to feature and hoping to play as many minutes in that competition as possible.
“From the last time I was here to now, to be honest, even the mentality back then was that [the ACL] was so important but now it’s all we talk about especially in the change rooms.
“It’s a similar way that Europe would see their Champions League. You feel as though you’re not only representing your club but your country in a certain way because you’re putting the league on the forefront. I think everyone knows it’s a game a lot more people watch and as much as it is a shop window and I understand that point of view but its more just representing yourself on a bigger stage.”
Gallifuoco made two appearances in Melbourne Victory’s 2016 ACL campaign – featuring in both legs against Suwon Bluewings – but before he makes his return to the Champions League, the 26-year-old has his sights set on a Melbourne derby debut this Friday night at AAMI Park.
“I wasn’t able to play [in the derby] the last time I was here, so it is a derby I always wanted to play in so fingers crossed I get that opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve always had a soft spot [for Victory] because it was one of my first professional contracts when I was here. Obviously coming from Spurs and Swansea where I was reserves player, this was a massive steppingstone for me. I am definitely hoping to stay here a bit longer but now we’re focusing on these next couple of games in this crazy period and then we’ll speak about this later.
“Last time I was here I came here as an under-23 that had played no professional first team games and now I’ve played 180 and I feel I’ve learned a lot just through the experience of it. I know I’m 26 I’m no longer a youngin and I feel I can bring not only a bit of versatility and utility in the fact I can give to positions, but also feel I can bring experience and a voice.”