Football can be a cruel or kind game and Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Youssouf Hersi knows this better than most.
The Wanderers fan favourite says he counts himself very lucky to be playing club football in Australia after overcoming a career-threatening injury and a nightmare stint in Cyprus where he wasn’t paid for several months service.
After cutting his losses and leaving Cyprus, Hersi returned home to the Netherlands where he suffered another serious knee injury at Dutch Eredivisie club De Graafschap.
Watch our interview with Hersi, filmed by Gene Ramirez below:
Facing a lengthy rehabilitation and shrinking playing options in Europe Hersi made the decision to travel to Australia and trial for A-League newcomers the Wanderers.
The rest as they say is history.
With 18 starts for his new club Hersi has quickly established himself as one of the Wanderers key attacking threats and has scored five crucial goals from midfield.
‘‘I came here and the coach gave me a an opportunity and I’m thankful for that,’’ Hersi said.
‘‘[In Europe] I was out fighting a [constant] knee injury for two years and that’s when the offer to trial for the Wanderers came up.’’
Since then Hersi has slowly returned to near full-fitness and shared the right wing position with Kwabena Appiah-Kubi.
His stellar form has attracted plenty of attention and culminated in a call from the Ethopian national team coaching staff.
Hersi, who was born in Ethopia, still qualifies to play for his country of birth despite making eight appearances for the Dutch under 21 team.
‘‘The Ethopian coaching staff have been keeping an eye on me in the A-League and wanted me to play in last month’s African Cup of Nations in South Africa,’’ he said.
‘‘I told them though after all of my injuries I’m only focused on playing well for the Wanderers at the moment.’’
At 30-year-of-age, time is still on Hersi’s side and the midfield dynamo is hopeful of signing a contract extension with the Wanderers.
Tune into Television Sydney News on TVS, Digital Channel 44 at 6.30pm today for a story about the Wanderers success this season.