The debt of gratitude behind Robbie Kruse returning to Victory
A decade ago, Melbourne Victory threw Robbie Kruse a lifeline that the attacker admits saved his career.
So when the chance came knocking to return to the club which ignited a successful eight-year tenure in Germany and 75 caps for the Caltex Socceroos, Kruse simply couldn’t turn it down.
The 30-year-old became Victory boss Marco Kurz’s first signing on Tuesday when he signed a two-year deal with the four-time Hyundai A-League Champions.
The move brings the Queenslander's career almost full circle.
While he started his career at Brisbane Roar in 2007, a string of off-field issues saw Kruse head to Melbourne for a fresh start in 2009.
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It turned out to be a masterstroke. Kruse played two seasons for Victory between 2009-2011, scored 16 goals in 39 appearances and was catapulted into Europe with German side Fortuna Dusseldorf.
“The club [Victory] has always had a special place in my heart,” Kruse told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
“I was in a tough spot when I finished in Brisbane and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do…I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be playing football.
“Melbourne gave me a lifeline. I saw what it takes to be a professional and that’s what this club provides, you get help on and off the pitch.
“It gave me the platform to reach my potential and I’ll be forever grateful for that.”
It’s that debt of gratitude that convinced Kruse to come back to the Hyundai A-League despite plenty of offers to remain in Europe.
His family – which includes his wife and young son – also came into his thoughts on returning to Melbourne.
Of course, his big motivation is on the pitch.
“I’m here to win titles because that’s what Melbourne Victory does,” Kruse declared.
“They aren’t a team that rebuilds, they are always up there, the fans expect that and it’s no different now.
“With the changes happening now and the coaches and staff we have in recruiting, it’s an opportunity now to refresh and I’m sure we’ll have a really good team come the start of the season.
“It’s an exciting time and I’m looking forward to helping the team and help galvanise the new players and the young players and lead by example.”
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Victory boss Kurz said of his prize recruit: “His quality is really high, the runs in behind are really special.
“For us that’s really important because we lost a couple of players that scored a lot of goals last season. He has the quality we need.
“He’s an experienced player and they can make the difference in the league or in the game.”