Daniel Mullen admits his own far east movement has taught him a few things, but whether he heads back at the end of his loan spell is undecided.
Home is where the heart is, or so they say, and although Melbourne isn-t specifically that for a proud Adelaide boy like Daniel Mullen, the defender has enjoyed it enough to consider whether his two-year deal in China with Dalian Aerbin is really what he wants.
“It is nice to be home even though I am from Adelaide, just being back in Australia feels like home,” Mullen said.
“To be honest I thought it (China and the language barrier) would be a lot easier, but over there 90 per cent of the people wouldn-t speak a word of English.
“I was by myself which made it harder but the people over there were always trying to help me, so it was a good experience; I definitely learned a lot, not just football-wise but as a person as well.
“Still my loan deal finishes on July 1, whether I go back or not I am undecided.”
Back in the A-League Mullen has been fortunate enough to be a part of a Victory side who are good enough to be considered Grand Final contenders and he is enjoying every minute.
Mullen who is on loan from Dalian, returned to stiffen the Victory-s once brittle defence, and despite a hammering at the hands of the Mariners a month ago, his partnership with Adrian Leijer has continued to improve, as has Mullen himself.
A strong player at Adelaide United, Mullen went to Dalian at the end of the last A-League season and says he has learned a lot in his time there, taking in the tips dished out to him from former Barcelona players Fabio Rochembak and Seydou Keita, Mullen adamant he is a better player and person for the experience.
“The thing with China is you get to play with some very good foreign players. I was playing with some guys who had been at Barcelona and the EPL, so just being around them you pick up little things and it-s stuff you can-t be taught but try and mirror, but since I have come back I think I have improved because of playing with guys of such a high standard”.
The most prevalent lesson he learned, being able to anticipate. Ice-hockey great Wayne Gretzky was famously told by his father to “skate to where the puck will be, not where it is”, a principal Mullen says applies to football and one he really picked up thanks to playing with some players of the highest quality.
“Anticipation is key, you can watch some of the best defenders in the world and they might be a little bit older and not as fast, but because they are a step ahead of where the ball will be they appear quicker because of their positioning,” he said
“As a defender you have to get into better positions where strikers can-t get into shooting situations, but on the flip side when you have defensive midfielders on your team, some of the decisions they make playing forward and with their distribution of the ball are also things you can learn from, and I hope I did.”
In his brief time back it looks like he has. Mullen has always been an aerial threat, but he looks more assured on the ball these days and confident of making the right runs at the right time, an asset that may be vital for the Victory in the coming weeks.