Return of the Z
After a couple of years plying his trade in Holland, Zenon Caravella is back in Australia with another fledgling outfit, Gold Coast United, embarking on its own piece of history.
Zenon Caravella is getting a sense of deja-vu. Four years ago, the midfielder was part of the inaugural New Zealand Knights squad, creating his own piece of history on the Shaky isles. Fast forward to 2009, after a couple of years plying his trade in Holland, Caravella is back with another fledgling outfit, Gold Coast United, embarking on its own piece of history.
Caravella admitted he was quite happy to stay in Europe before returning for his wedding last year. Playing for FC Omniworld in the Dutch Eertse Divisie, it was only when Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg called him that he considered a move back to Australia.
"I'd been in Holland for a few years and I came back to get married and while I was getting married, I was put in touch with Miron and basically he offered me a contract and my wife and I talked about it and decided that it was the best idea for us," he said.
"Being overseas in Europe is great. It's great for the football. The European lifestyle is great. But things change and we've got a little one on the way now. Being close to family and that sort of stuff was a bit of a factor in our decision."
So now Caravella finds himself back in his native Queensland, albeit a fair distance from Cairns, where he was born, as part of one of the most-hyped franchises in the Hyundai A-League.
Billionaire Clive Palmer has invested plenty in the club and Caravella said that there is a difference from the buzz around the Knights when they first came into being in 2005.
"There was a lot of hype in New Zealand as well. That was their first professional team in the A-League. I don't think to the extent that we are having here at the Gold Coast. I just think there's a lot more hype here at the Gold Coast. It's a long the same sort of lines, if you know what I mean," he said.
"The fact that we've got a wealthy man backing our club. People seem to be drawn to it. It's pretty exciting up here now."
Those expecting the same type of player who played 21 games for the Knights in season one are set for a shock. Caravella said he has grown markedly as a player.
"I think I've changed completely as a player. I know my way around the field better, as a midfielder that's very important, knowing where to stand on the field and what runs to make, and just read the game a whole lot better."
"That's what I gained over there. It's a completely different style playing in Holland, but if you balance that out, between that robust Australian style and the more finesse of the Dutch League, if you can put that into your game, then it can only be a good thing."
Caravella is just as excited as Palmer is about his team. Palmer famously said that United would go through its first campaign unbeaten and win the title. The 26-year-old is not predicting that sort of dominance, but believes the team has the right players to be highly-competitive.
"I think we've got a very strong team. We are waiting for a few players to come back. Jason Culina, Joel Porter and a couple of others. They've recruited very well. On paper, we look very strong, so it's just a matter of translating that onto the pitch," he said.
"I don't think (what Palmer said) it puts pressure on the players too much, As a club, whether you're new or five years old, no-one wants to have a long term goal to win the A-League. You put a team together, you get them on the pitch and you want to win things straight away. That's the normal competitive attitude you want to have. We've got that right through the team. Everyone basically excited to play and get results. It's not a five-year plan to win a trophy."