Vince Grella says Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi is "99 per cent the reason" he has joined the Hyundai A-League club.
Vince Grella says Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi is "99 per cent the reason" he has joined the Hyundai A-League club as he revealed he almost gave up playing football earlier this year.
The 33-year-old defensive midfielder finished a four-year spell with former English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers earlier this year having only played 45 senior games during that time with injuries playing a part.
Upon returning to Italy, where he had played for 10 years, Grella thought his career might be over but after a few months away from the game he rediscovered his passion for football, which led to him signing for Heart.
"Leaving England and moving back to Italy was something I needed to do," Grella said.
"I needed a bit of a rest and find out what I wanted to do and if I still had that passion and drive to be a professional footballer.
"I had a little down spell and got back into training and I've done a bit of work with my old physical trainer from Empoli, which was really good for me.
"He gave me that confidence again and ... gave me that passion and enthusiasm to be able to play at the top level."
Grella made his name at Empoli, Parma, where he was captain for a time, and then Torino, playing 242 senior matches, including 182 in Serie A, before his ill-fated move to England.
But while he had offers to remain in Europe and to head elsewhere, Grella made it clear former Socceroos teammate Aloisi was a huge drawcard to join Melbourne Heart.
"I would say (Aloisi was) 99 per cent the reason," Grella said.
The defensive midfielder, who played for Australia at both the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, claimed Heart were more attractive because they understood his fitness issues after he trained with them during the preseason.
"I needed to go to a place where people knew me and the club would also understand the situation I'd be in, in not rushing me back," Grella said.
Having only played six Premier League matches over the past two seasons for Blackburn, both Grella and Aloisi made it clear Heart's new signing will need time before he makes his Hyundai A-League debut.