Nick Sullivan is nothing if not resolute and determined.
Sullivan has had to be given some of the rotten cards he has been dealt with in his desire to live the dream and make a name for himself in the unforgiving world of professional football.
Now back at the Wanderers, where Sullivan was once a member of the club’s foundation National Youth League squad, the midfielder is relishing his time in the Red & Black after signing a one year deal in August.
It is far removed from some of the tough times Sullivan had to endure during his spell trying to establish himself overseas, especially in Portugal where he had to work two days a week as a volunteer in a hostel to supplement the measured income from football.
“I couldn't afford to pay for accommodation and food because of the poor wage I was getting from the club, so I worked as a volunteer at a hostel,” said Sullivan.
“I would train five days a week and on the two days off I would work at the hotel making beds and cooking for the residents.
“I really had no time to myself so I just had to suck it up.”
It was a steep learning curve, but one that has done little to dim the 21-year-old’s fierce determination to try his luck overseas again one day.
“That’s my dream, to try it again,” said Sullivan.
“I want to play in a Champions League, I want to walk out on the field to the Champions League fanfare.
“Of course, I’d also love to play for the Socceroos at a World Cup one day.”
The midfielder played his junior football for Lilli Pilli before going overseas at 15 to join Belgium’s Club Brugge, where he spent two seasons.
He returned home and linked with the Wanderers youth league squad in 2015 before Europe beckoned again.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. Like too many young players around the world, Sullivan was let down badly.
“It was a tough time. There were promises made about a contract with a club,” recalled Sullivan.
“I returned home but when I went back two weeks later they didn’t want to know me.
“I got stuck looking for another club.”
Sullivan is hugely appreciative of the faith head coach Markus Babbel and the club have shown in him and wants to make a good fist of his time at the Wanderers.
A late starter at pre-season and hampered by injury, Sullivan nonetheless impressed Babbel enough to earn his Hyundai A-League debut in the starting XI in the opening match of the season against Central Coast Mariners where he played in 68 minutes before being subbed.
Sullivan then played the entire game in the 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory before suffering an injury early in the second half in the Sydney Derby.
Despite being sidelined for a month, Babbel instantly recalled him to the starting line-up against Melbourne City last Friday night, where he played 58 minutes before his condition told.
“Markus threw me in at the deep end at the start of the season and I took the opportunity,” added Sullivan.
“I’ve really enjoyed it back at the Wanderers.
“It was disappointing to get injured in the Sydney Derby and having to spend some more time on the sideline. But, I have worked hard to get back to where I was.
“I’m looking forward to making a good contribution to the team for the rest of the season.”