Domestic success and a pathway to the beaches of Rio convinced Matthew Spiranovic to sign with the Western Sydney Wanderers in favour of continuing to play abroad.
Spiranovic, unveiled by the club before Wednesday morning's training, said he returned to Australia believing he could earn a recall to the Socceroos squad for the 2014 World Cup with a successful year with the Wanderers.
The towering central defender has not been part of the national team since a friendly against South Korea in November 2012 and appeared to have fallen down the pecking order under Socceroos coach Holger Osieck. He says that the rising quality of the domestic competition, which is watched closely by Osieck, will boost his chances of returning to the frame.
''Definitely, the A-League is a tough, tough league with the quality of players here and the Wanderers now qualified for the ACL [Asian Champions League]. I'm sure that if I'm good enough to perform here then I'll be ready for the World Cup next year,'' Spiranovic said. ''I think just from my performances on the field and obviously being fit and healthy, then that will be the right step to making that squad.''
Spiranovic was once seen as the future of Australia's defence having broken into the first team of Bundesliga side FC Nurnberg as a teenager but struggled to cement a place in the green and gold due to injuries and inconsistent form. Since leaving Qatari club Al-Arabi during the off-season, Spiranovic turned down offers to play abroad after being impressed by the coaching methods of Tony Popovic during a two-week training stint with the Wanderers in August.
''Just weighing up my options both here and overseas, I think for the next nine months leading up to the World Cup, this was just the right fit for me and speaking to 'Poppa', hearing a lot of positive things, I think this was the main reason for coming back,'' Spiranovic said.
His signing reinforces what was the A-League's best defence last year, led by captain Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Popovic hinted he will not change his formation to incorporate Spiranovic into a more congested back line, but rather is looking for his new signing to create a competitive environment for starting positions.
''We've got two quality centre backs and it brings a lot of competition,'' Popovic said. ''To do well in both competitions this year, we need that depth and I think it's a great signing for our club.'' Spiranovic could line up for his new club in a friendly match against Bankstown City Lions on Thursday night but Popovic was coy on his chances of starting in the Wanderers' A-League opener against Central Coast Mariners on October 12.
''It was about four, five weeks ago since he last trained with us so we're not sure what his condition is like,'' he said. ''We will assess his condition and … have a better idea.''