Bouncing between the NSW Premier League and the A-League is tough, but Mathhew Nash knows now is the time to really make a go of it at the Jets.
Matt Nash doesn-t like seeing players get injured. But when Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti broke his cheek bone after a nasty smash with Jeremy Brockie, Nash knew that more than likely he-d be getting a call.
It-s a little harsh to call Nash a journeyman, as it suggests he hasn-t been able to settle at any club. It-s closer to the truth to say, no club hasn-t been quite able to settle on him.
Called up by Gary van Egmond as injury cover for Birighitti, this is Nash-s third stint with the Jets, following a previous injury cover call-up and a full-time season with the Hunter club.
Around that, Nash has also had periods with Sydney FC and Central Coast Mariners - who loaned him out to Adelaide United.
It-s easy to be jealous of the life of a professional footballer but for every individual that makes it, there are countless talented others, plugging away on the fringes and hoping for a break.
But this isn-t a hard luck story, nor is Nash claiming he-s been hard done by. The 31-year-old instead chooses to focus on the opportunities he-s had and doing what he loves - playing football.
“It is hard to establish yourself in the A-League,” Nash admitted.
“If you-re ever given chance you-ve just got do to your best. There are only really 10 keepers that can play in the comp each year unless there-s an injury or a form slump but it-s hard for a keeper to get in and get established. There-s plenty out there trying to get in so you have to do your best when you get a crack at it.
“You try to work hard when you get in but that-s football. There are plenty of guys out there that haven-t had the chances I-ve had, so in one sense it is frustrating but I do consider myself lucky that I-ve had the opportunity to play in the A-League.
“Sometimes luck doesn-t go your way but there are people a lot worse off than me that never get the opportunity so I-m grateful in that sense as well.”
It helps when the coaches know you-re up to the job but Nash also has to be ready to respond if and when the call comes, wherever it comes from.
As well as his personal training business on the side, Nash is committed to playing football and has almost 300 NSW Premier League appearances to his name.
“It can be hard [spending short stints at different clubs] but you learn something new at all the clubs you go to and you see how all the clubs work.
“There-s not many players that make that move regularly (between state and national leagues); you-re playing on better grounds so the football-s a bit quicker and a bit better. When you go back to the Premier League you-re not training as much so you-re not as sharp as in the A-League. But there-s definitely a lot of talent down there.
“When I finished with the Jets last time and I played with Parramatta, then had about six or seven weeks off just keeping fit on my own as I had nearly two years without a break.
“When ‘Biri- went down injured it was a good time for me to come back because I was fresh mentally and I-d kept myself in decent physical shape because I do personal training as a job. I didn-t expect anything to come up, but if it did I was always optimistic I could get back in and do a job.
Nash-s aim is still to earn a full-time contract with an A-League club but it-s not the be all and end all, and as well as running his own business, he-s already looking at life outside the game he still loves
“If you-re not comfortable sitting on the bench they usually give that spot to a younger keeper coming through. There are a lot of things that can get in the way but you-ve got to just keep plugging away. If anything came up full-time I-d jump at the chance.
“I do a bit of coaching stuff on the side, though, some one-on-one stuff; I-ve done most of my coaching tickets so it-s something I-d like to get into down the track.
“I-ve always wanted to be a footballer and I like playing at the highest level I can. I-ve still got the passion for it, I see it like I started a bit late - not til I was about 25-26 - and goalkeepers can play a lot longer than field players so I still feel I-ve got a lot to give.”