Aloisi putting horror year behind him
It was the day after his season from hell had hit its nadir – and here was John Aloisi forced to show his face at one of Australia's most famous landmarks.
It was the day after his season from hell had hit its nadir - and here was John Aloisi forced to show his face at one of Australia's most famous landmarks.
Bondi Beach was packed four days before Christmas as Sydney FC held a recovery session less than 24 hours after a horrific 4-1 home loss to Perth Glory.
Aloisi had missed two simple opportunities, including a tap in from a few metres out, and looked like a man with the world on his shoulders.
He was there but he wasn't, his eyes trained on the horizon as if it offered an escape from the pressure and embarrassment he was feeling.
A striker struggling for goals is like a batsman searching for his next run; until the drought is broken nothing much else matters.
Five months on and Aloisi is, if not a changed man, at least one with a bit more perspective.
"It was just one of those seasons and one to get out of the way," he said, looking back on a campaign which yielded just two goals.
"The majority of people on the streets were very good. They didn't bother me."
"I had players and ex-players telling me not to worry about it."
"A lot of people tried to give me advice and I appreciate everyone who tried to back me up and help me."
"I've scored goals before and I'm sure I will score goals again."
"It was just one of those bad spells."
Accustomed to having people pull him up to talk about the penalty which took Australia to the 2006 World Cup finals, the goal drought became the subject of choice.
"I was getting a bit sick of it," Aloisi conceded.
"It wasn't a great year for the club or myself and I'm not hiding from that fact."
"But that's in the past and we want to concentrate on the present and the future."
"I think it looks bright."
There are a number of familiar faces still there, but the changes at Sydney FC are evident.
New coach Vitezslav Lavicka's thick Czech accent is not the only touch of Europe at the Sky Blues.
Training sessions are more intense and regular, with ballwork favoured ahead of endurance work.
The team environment is also encouraged.
No longer do players finish for the day and splinter off home or to nearby cafes or x-box units.
There are no times for cliques to form - a bane of Sydney's existence since the Hyundai A-League's inception - or players to complain about their lot.
"It's completely different really. They are really trying to make it like it is in Europe," Aloisi said of the new set-up.
"The young kids are going to benefit a lot because they are going to realise what it's like playing and training at a higher level."
"Training like a European professional … it's going to improve them and make them better players."
"The way we train, the intensity … we are doing everything for a reason."
Aloisi likens the set-up to Australia's 06 World Cup preparations.
"It's very similar to way we used to train with Guus Hiddink in the national team," he said.
"It's intense when we train and after training we are sitting down together eating lunch."
"It just helps the group grow. That shows in training."
Just the mere mention of Hiddink and the Socceroos triggers excitement in Aloisi's voice.
But at 33 and with last year's struggles the only up to date form guide, a return to the national team seems eons away.
Aloisi hasn't given up hope of adding to his 55 international caps (and 27 goals) - he's just not so sure Pim Verbeek hasn't given up on him.
"At the moment I don't think I am in his thoughts at all because I didn't have the best of seasons last year and I haven't played for a while," a realistic Aloisi said.
"I'm just concentrating on doing well for the club and making sure we have a good start to the season and have a good year."
"If I'm doing well for my club we will see if the Australian team comes along again."
"That's not in my thoughts at the moment."
"But who knows? Football is a funny game and it can change very quickly."
Aloisi is banking on it.