Even in his darkest hours, Corey Gameiro always believed his professional career had a future.
Despite hitting rock bottom more than once during a torrid run of three consecutive ACL tears, the Port Kembla product had faith he would get another opportunity to play at the top level.
It’s a mark of the steely resolve embedded deep within the former Young Socceroos striker, who says his return from yet another setback has always been a matter of when and not if.
“It’s never been a matter of giving up,” Gameiro, who signed a new one year deal with the Brisbane Roar on Tuesday, explains.
“Even now that I have had three knee reconstructions, you look at someone like [Geelong Cats half-forward] Daniel Menzel, who I went for coffee with when I was in Melbourne, he has had four.
“And I know [Cronulla Sharks captain] Paul Gallen has had multiple knee operations as well.
“People go through worse things than this and come back. People have gone through cancer and come back to play.
“When you hear things like that, it really puts things into perspective that what I am going through is tough, but it is doable.”
Gameiro’s injury woes began in November, 2014 when he tore his ACL for the first time while touring with the Olyroos in China.
He made the switch from Sydney FC to Melbourne City a year later, but his awful run of luck followed him across the border.
The former Fulham youth player suffered a second tear in his left knee exactly 53 weeks after the first before having a third setback in his right knee in September last year. Since then he has spent the bulk of his time doing up to four sessions a day to get himself ready to make a return to the pitch.
“I am actually stronger now than I was two years ago and so I should be after all the gym and work I have done,” Gameiro said.
“I feel really good.
“The past few years have been very challenging for me, both mentally and emotionally. I have had some very dark days and some tough, tough times.”
While he’s now almost come out the other side of one of the most difficult periods in his life, Gameiro insists his comeback never would have been possible had it not been for the support of his family, friends and long-term partner Catey Cardwell.
Cardwell moved to Melbourne with Gameiro and has already joined him in the Sunshine State as he prepares for his first season with Brisbane.
The Roar were one of ‘three or four clubs’ who showed interest in the talented 24-year-old, but it was the faith the club showed in Gameiro’s ability to bounce back from his latest setback that got him over the line.
“With the history I have had, I am in no rush at all and that was the pleasing thing when I spoke to [Roar coach] John Aloisi. He was saying that he will look after me and that he didn’t need me to hit the ground running tomorrow,” Gameiro said.
“To hear that from a club is really reassuring.
“For John to give me this opportunity, to believe in me as much as I believe in myself, I don’t ever want to let him down.
“Everyone at the club has a belief in me that I have in myself.”
The Roar begin their campaign against Gameiro’s former club Melbourne City on October 6.