Sydney FC striker Shane Smeltz has sent his best wishes to surfing star Mick Fanning, praising his former school mate's bravery after a potentially deadly brush with a shark in South Africa.
Smeltz, a New Zealand World Cup international and one of the greatest ever goalscorers in the Hyundai A-League, went to High School with Fanning on Australia's Gold Coast at Palm Beach Curumbin High School (PBC).
Like millions around the world, Smeltz was shocked to see the footage of Fanning’s brush with a shark at a World Surf League Final in South Africa on Sunday.
But after growing up with Fanning at school on the Gold Coast, Smeltz, 33, felt certain the surfing superstar would bounce back from the incident.
“From me obviously thoughts go out to him and still do. I’m sure he was pretty shaken up about it," Smeltz told www.a-league.com.au at Tuesday's launch of Sydney FC's new Puma kit.
“I saw in on Twitter but it’s not until you see the footage how serious it is.
So thankful to be able to have this hug with @julian_wilson this man came to my aid like a warrior!! It was by far the scariest thing I have ever been through and am still rattled. In our sport we always think about sharks and know we are in their domain. Many thanks to all the people that have reached out and sent their wishes. Jbay is an incredible place and I will go back one day. Thanks to the @wsl announcers and water patrol for being on top of us and the care they showed us and to all my friends on tour that were by my side. Love you all.
A photo posted by Mick Fanning (@mfanno) on Jul 20, 2015 at 7:39am PDT
But knowing Mick,” Smeltz said with a wry smile. “It doesn’t surprise me, he is a real fighter and I know what he was like at school.
“And he’s certainly go on with it in his career.
"He certainly gave that shark a bit of a lesson,” the Sydney FC star said with a smile.
Smeltz hasn’t contacted Fanning as the surfer as he says would’ve been inundated with messages of support.
“It’s a scary moment but I probably will send a message to him. I thank God he came out of it unscathed.
“I think already you can sense with him he feels blessed doesn’t he. You can sense that from his reaction. He’s got a family and he knows how important life is.
“But knowing Mick as much as he loves surfing I’m sure he’ll be back out there.”
And if Fanning’s sporting career hadn’t taken a turn towards surfing, he may well of being a team-mate or opponent of Smeltz’s in the Hyundai A-League.
“He loves his football. I remember back in school Years 9 and 10 he was in the school team and he loves it, but obviously surfing took over but he loved football," added Smeltz.