Tahj Minniecon is on the comeback trail. And he knows this is his last chance to have the success he craves.
Tahj Minniecon is on the comeback trail. And he knows this is his last chance.
The 23-year-old forward broke onto the scene with Brisbane Roar back in 2008 before moving to the now defunct Gold Coast United.
He spent three horror years at the Coast, where a combination of injuries, form and personal issues put his professional career on the brink.
When the club folded in April this year, it seemed like it was all over for Minniecon.
And it certainly might have been, had Tony Popovic not thrown him a lifeline.
The Western Sydney Wanderers coach handed Minniecon a one-week trial before signing him up.
It's an opportunity Minniecon will be forever grateful to Popovic for.
"I'm very grateful and thankful for Popa contacting me in the off-season and helping me to find the love again for the sport," Minniecon said.
"He's helped me tremendously - I can't thank him enough."
Minniecon is determined to make up for lost time and has been working hard on his fitness. He's already lost around 10kg and says he's brought the professionalism back into his personality.
Popovic is delighted with the progress Minniecon has made.
"He came to us probably a bit disillusioned about football, about life," Popovic said.
"He's really knuckled down hard - he's got himself fit, he's lost a lot of weight and he's very determined to get back to where he was.
"We're expecting him to get better and better as the season progresses."
Minniecon is further motivated by the desire to be seen as an indigenous ambassador of the game.
Football isn't a popular choice of sport among the indigenous communities, but Minniecon hopes to make it more of an attractive option.
"There's a lot of natural talent out there and it shows - they do well in a lot of sports," he said.
"I've always enjoyed getting out and helping with whatever I can do with indigenous communities.
"I see myself as hopefully one of the few players that have made it, helping and showing that soccer is definitely a good sport to play and definitely a good career."
Minniecon came off the bench for the Wanderers against Newcastle last weekend and, though Popovic wouldn't confirm if he'll play against Perth this weekend, the coach is excited about what Minniecon brings to the team.
"I think he offers a lot of creativity," Popovic said.
"He always had the ability, but for whatever reason football wasn't a priority anymore.
"But he's got that hunger back."
Minniecon is far more focused and mature and he's determined to make the most of this opportunity to shine again.