Australian international Tomi Juric returned to Coopers Stadium with a bang, netting the opener in his first match at home in an Adelaide United jersey in seven years.
A crowd of over 10,000 strong welcomed Adelaide United home for the first time this season as it walked away with a 2-0 victory over Melbourne City. The visitors finished the game with 10 men after Scott Jamieson was sent off mid-way through the second half.
After an impressive, but ultimately unrewarding 0-0 draw away from home in the season opener against Western United, Juric admitted that it was good to pick up the three points in front of a home crowd.
“We play our sport for the fans,” he said.
“The first game after 300 days at home, in front of fans now, it was fantastic to have the fans on our side and to be able to appreciate them and send them off with a win.
“Personally for me it’s been a rough couple of years, so that one meant a lot, especially coming back home.”
Juric last played domestic football in Australia in 2015 when he was a part of the Western Sydney Wanderers team, coached by Australian legend Tony Popovic, that won the 2014 Asian Champions League, something no other A-League club has achieved.
The forward then made the switch to European football after turning down a massive deal tabled to him by Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in order to boost his chances for selection in the national team.
The 29-year-old has spent the last five years of his career in the Netherlands, Switzerland and recently Bulgaria with CSKA Sofia where he struggled to find regular first team football, primarily due to an injury plagued few years.
Juric netted only once during his time with CSKA Sofia but having already scored in his return to the A-League, the forward will be looking to put a difficult few years behind him and get back to his talismanic best.
The team he has walked into, though, is very different to the one he left back in 2013.
The Reds boast one of the youngest line-ups in the league and Juric himself has had to transition into a role model for these youngsters coming through.
“I think that’s something that comes with time now,” Juric said.
“I don’t like being the older guy in the group, everyone likes to be the young one, but that’s the role upon me now.
“I’m fine with helping the lads out any way they need.”
With World Cup Qualifiers looming for the Socceroos in March, Juric will be looking to add to his tally this season in order to push his bid for selection.
With 41 caps accrued to date for his country, selectors clearly value what Juric is capable of at his best, however the striker has not played at international level since 2018.
A return to the A-League and regular first team football will no doubt help his case but his current priority remains with United, who have started the season well and are still yet to lose under Carl Veart.
The Reds must now wait until January 16 to take to the field again, an away game against Perth Glory, before they welcome rivals Melbourne Victory to Coopers Stadium a week later.