Buhagiar repaying Sky Blues' faith with stellar return from ACL tear
Sydney FC speedster Trent Buhagiar says scoring his first Hyundai A-League goal for Sydney FC last weekend felt like turning the page on his year-long recovery from injury and starting an exciting new chapter.
Buhagiar looked set for a breakout season with the Sky Blues last season after scoring eight goals in pre-season leading into the 2018/19 Hyundai A-League campaign.
But disaster struck on the eve of the season as Buhagiar tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training, which spelt the end of his season before it had even began.
After a long layoff Buhagiar returned for the 2019/20 campaign feeling all the better for overcoming physical and mental demons on the road to recovery, and the 21-year-old says he closed that chapter of his journey when he scored his first Hyundai A-League goal for the Sky Blues within a minute of coming off the bench against Brisbane last weekend.
“It was a big relief, just a weight off my shoulders trying to get back on that scoresheet,” Buhagiar told a-league.com.au.
“That’s what I’m here to do and it’s a big relief for that to happen... to finally get a goal and put that line through it and move on, and hopefully I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.
“It was a massive road to recovery, I had 12 months out.
“You learn a lot going through those kind of things.
“Everyone is there to support you, you learn a lot about yourself mentally more than anything, you’ve got to push for everything every day.
“I learned mentally, became tougher and more aware of what I’m able to do.”
Buhagiar’s return has been a cautious one as Sydney FC boss Steve Corica continues to nurse him through the opening rounds of the Hyundai A-League season.
He’s featured four times off the bench for just 21 minutes of game time, but his 6-minute cameo against the Roar which produced a goal and an assist showed Buhagiar is every bit of the player he was before the injury and more.
Sydney FC recently rewarded Buhagiar for his recovery efforts with a contract extension until the end of the 2021/22 Hyundai A-League season, and the 21-year-old couldn’t be happier to continue his stay at the Sky Blues and learn from their star-studded attack.
“For them to offer me another extension I’m grateful to have the opportunity to learn from the players above me,” Buhagiar said.
“We’ve got world class players here and I’ve been learning a lot, so hopefully I can continue that and keep learning from the players above me.
“I’m mainly focussing on getting my confidence back, building my body back up and getting more and more confident.
“Having a year out it might take a little while to get back to that full fitness or full confidence but hopefully very soon I can be back to be playing 90 minutes.
"It’s going to be hard with the players around me who are playing really well like Kosta (Barbarouses) and Alfie (Adam Le Fondre) up top who have been playing really well.
“It’s going to be hard for me to get into that starting 11 but hopefully when my time comes I can do something with it.
“It’s a great team, we’ve got quality players everywhere on the pitch and we’ve shown that by the way we’ve been playing.”
Buhagiar’s journey takes a turn down memory lane this weekend when Sydney FC host Central Coast Mariners at Nestrata Jubilee Stadium on Saturday night.
The Gosford local made 40 appearances over three seasons for the Mariners but didn’t have the chance to face his former side last season due to his injury.
Buhagiar still lives on the coast and makes the daily trip down to Sky Blues HQ, and admits he’s not sure where his family’s loyalty lies as the two sides prepare to go head to head in Round 10.
“I’m not too sure, actually, I’m pretty sure they’re Sydney FC fans now,” Buhagiar said.
“My family still lives on the coast and so do I.
“It’s big for me because that’s where I grew up and played my whole career before I came here.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s the first time I’m versing them.
I’ve got a lot of respect for the club, hopefully it will be a good game but hopefully we get the result as well.”
Saturday, December 14 2019
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT
Venue: Netstrata Jubilee Stadium
Broadcast: FOX Sports 505
Stream: MyFootball Live App, Kayo Sports