Vukovic refuses to get carried away by nine-goal turnaround

Danny Vukovic is coming off a nine-goal turnaround in his favour from the goalkeeper's last A-League game for Melbourne Victory to his first for Sydney FC, but he isn't getting carried away.

Danny Vukovic

Sydney FC player Danny Vukovic takes part in a training session Source: AAP

He has developed a large degree of perspective as a result of the illness affecting his son, Harley, and accepts that there are always going to be ups and downs in football and that all you can do is work as hard as you can to try to make it more ups than downs.

"Yeah, look, a great confidence booster," Vukovic said of last Saturday's 4-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers in the opening round of the competition.

"My last A-League game, we lost 5-0 and I got dropped at my former club, so it was nice to start like that at my new club. I put in a solid performance, but for me it was a great team performance.

"I know my ability and that's always been there and it went away from me for whatever reason last season, but while it's a good start it's only one game. I'm not going to get carried away. I'll just keep working hard and try to build on that performance."

Vukovic was referring to Victory's 5-0 loss to Brisbane Roar in round 23 of last season, on March 12. Coach Kevin Muscat promoted Lawrence Thomas to starting goalkeeper after that.

Seven months later, Vukovic won the pre-season battle with Vedran Janjetovic for the starting spot at Sydney FC and made several big saves against Wanderers.

It was Vukovic at his shot-stopping best and now he's out to deny the club where he made his name, Central Coast Mariners, in Saturday's game at Allianz Stadium.

Vukovic, his wife, Kristy, and their son are living at the foot of the Blue Mountains, surrounded by family, while they await a liver transplant for young Harley.

It is that network of family support that is integral to Vukovic being able to once again concentrate on his game to the degree that is required at a professional level.

Asked if the worry affected his form last season, when there was no network of support in Melbourne whenever he was away from home due to football commitments, Vukovic said: "Oh, look, I'm sure it played its part. I think I was making errors I'd never made in my career.

"I've always prided myself on being a consistent goalkeeper and some of the goals I conceded were definitely out of character for myself.

"How much it affected me, it's hard to say. Maybe you just go through form slumps sometimes anyway. It happens to every player and maybe it was just my time to go through a form slump. I don't know, but I think I'm in a good environment to get back to my best."

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold revealed after the win over Wanderers that he had received a text from a young cancer sufferer, Gabriel Cipriano, and read it to the players before the game.

"I had a beautiful text this morning from a kid, Gabe, who sat next to me on the bench last year," Arnold told the post-match media conference.

"It was a beautiful text about how he'd be watching the game and a Sky Blue win gives him reason to live. I read that to the boys before the game and you could see the hunger straight away in the players' faces that they wanted to do it for the boy. So, we reward this victory to young Gabe."

Vukovic said he had felt emotional, hearing Arnold read the message aloud.

"I think it put things into perspective, a young fan battling cancer who wanted us to win the game," he said.

"You realise what families and children are going through. Not that we needed motivation, but it certainly gave us added motivation to put in a good performance.

"It hit home for me, with my young boy sick. It put things in perspective and we can really enjoy knowing we've made someone happy who's in hospital and was watching us play."

Vukovic has been doing his bit to help promote organ donation generally as he and his wife continue to play the waiting game while Harley remains on medication and receives regular check-ups.

"I've talked about it a lot," he said. "It's like the norm for us at the moment. It's a major part of our lives, so I'm happy to share it. I love talking about my son, like any proud father."

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5 min read
Published 13 October 2016 at 10:21pm
By Greg Prichard