Australian Shane Cansdell-Sherriff is eyeing a move back to Australia as early as next season, but first there's promotion to win with his League Two outfit Burton Albion.
The 32-year-old Sydney-born defender is starring at the high-flying Brewers under former Leeds United and Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Cansdell-Sherriff is enjoying a bumper season at the Pirelli Stadium, with Albion on the cusp of winning the title and automatic promotion to League One.
But the possibility of returning to play in the Hyundai A-League is something that appeals to him.
“I’d love to. I’m looking at that option potentially for next season. If there’s an interest out there I would love to sit down and have a chat,” Cansdell-Sherriff told www.a-league.com.au.
“After a few good years I’m certainly fit enough. Over here we play 46 games a season, add another five to 10 with Cup matches in there so we play a lot of football.
“My fitness levels have been very good for the last 10-15 years at this level. Back home you don’t play as many games and I think I’d be able to kick on and play a few more years again.
“I always keep track [of the Hyundai A-League]. I’ve got a lot of mates who I grew up with playing back there so I always keep track of it.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone yet because I’m still focusing on my job here. Promotion is the most important thing here for me and the club and we’re just focusing on doing that first.”
He has plied his trade in Europe for the last 15 years. After playing a key role in the Joeys' famous 1999 run to the youth World Cup Final in New Zealand, Cansdell-Sherriff joined Leeds United.
His Elland Rd spell fell victim to the club's financial troubles in 2003, after which he's been on the books of Danish club Aarhus, Shrewsbury, Tranmere, Preston and had loan spells at Rochdale.
He joined Albion in 2014 after a loan spell with the club.
Cansdell-Sherriff has a young family with four young sons and admits returning to Australia has been in the back of his mind for a long time
“I’d love to go back to play where it all started and finish my football there,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“I’d love my family to see me play. I’ve been over here since I was 17 and my family has barely seen me play.
“My brother’s never seen me play since then, he’s always been in Australia and he’s been a big part of my life growing up in the footballing world. I’d love to get back and play in front of my family. Cousins, nieces, nephews and things like that.
“I think it’s the right time to come back to provide and show my experience of what I’ve learned over here working with great teams and great managers.”
Cansdell-Sherriff got his first break in the same year when he was signed by then-EPL heavyweights Leeds United, who spotted him playing for a NSW Academy side.
It was a great time to be at Elland Road with a host of Aussies – including Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell – at the club while they had experienced campaigners like Rio Ferdinand, Lee Bowyer, David Batty and Jonathon Woodgate on their books.
“I learned a lot from them, particularly Rio Ferdinand,” he said.
“Because we were both centre-halves at the time, he took me under his wing a little bit and always spoke to me and encouraged me and advised me on a few things…it was great.
“I’ve bumped into him a few times since and he’s the same guy he was back then, always willing to help in some way.
“Those experiences, you can’t buy things like that. Just to spend time with them and learn their mentality. That’s something I’ve taken away and if I get a chance to manage at that level someday I’ll keep that in mind.
“It’s sad the way the club has dropped since then but they are on their way up and they’ll be up there again soon. They are a great club…I have memories never to be forgotten from those days.”
But for now it’s all about Burton Albion and finishing the job by taking out the title.
Burton have opened up a five-point gap at the top following a last-gasp 2-1 win over Southend on Thursday morning (AEDT), despite playing the majority of the match with 10-men.
With nine games to go they are on the brink of a huge achievement for the small club and the hard-tackling defender is relishing the opportunity of landing some silverware.
“It’s the first time in my career I’ve been in a position like this with [nine] games to go,” Cansdell-Sherriff said.
“I’ve been at clubs before we’re you’re fourth, fifth, six and you’re chasing it or hanging on [to a play-off spot], you finish a match and you rush to see if anyone above you has dropped points.
“We’ve been in a good position so far, we’ve picked up points at the right time and we’re in a really good position.
“There’s no doubt in our mind we can push on in these final games. The boys are keen as mustard to win and do as best as we can. We’ve got a management behind us which won’t let us take our foot off the pedal that’s for sure.”