ILLAWARRA PREMIER LEAGUE
Former Socceroo Dean Heffernan doesn't see his return to Bulli as a short-term stint.
He might have hung up the boots professionally at the end of last season with the Western Sydney Wanderers, but the defender has no plans to give up the game altogether any time soon.
The two-time Socceroo penned a deal with Bulli until the end of the Illawarra Premier League season last week but both parties are interested in continuing the relationship should this season run smoothly.
It would see Heffernan join fellow former A-League players Noel Spencer and Alvin Ceccoli playing the twilight of their careers in the Illawarra.
Speaking during his first week of training on Thursday, Heffernan said he was happy to return to Balls Paddock.
"I definitely want to keep playing. I wanted to get back into it as soon as I could and I have played here before," he said.
"I was keen to come. There is a lot of young players, so if I can help them in any way that is great."
Heffernan first played for Bulli in 2002 before moving to the Wollongong Wolves.
He then spent the bulk of his career in the A-League with the Central Coast Mariners but also had stints at Liaoning Whowin FC in China and at English club Huddersfield Town.
"For me it was all just a bonus," Heffernan said. "I was playing here and going to uni and obviously I wanted to play professionally.
"It was a dream but I never thought it would come to reality. It did and one thing led to another and it ended up being 15 years of football."
Dapto Dandaloo signed Heffernan on a short stint last season, before he went on to finish his professional career with a successful campaign at the Wanderers.
"At the very start of the year we said we wanted to make the grand final and win it. We obviously didn't but we got to where we wanted to go with the Champions League as well by qualifying for the quarter-finals," Heffernan said.
"It was a good year. I learnt a lot from the coach [Tony Popovic]. He is one of the top coaches in Australia and I enjoyed it."
A June 1 transfer clearance date means Heffernan is unable to play in Bulli's blockbuster clash with South Coast United on Sunday.