Five years ago Roy Krishna started to question whether he was good enough.
The quicksilver Fijian striker was tantalisingly close to achieving his dream as he underwent an extended trial at the Phoenix but it ended in tears as then coach Ricki Herbert passed on him.
You couldn't fault the decision, given Herbert eventually landed Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre as his two import frontrunners.
But Krishna simply kept scoring goals.
A record of 72 in 103 games for former club Waitakere United demanded attention and his opportunity at the Phoenix has ironically come about through Ifill's season-ending Achilles injury.
"After that [2009 trial] I thought 'maybe I'm not good enough' but all I can say is that after signing it is a big relief," Krishna said yesterday after completing his first training session at Newtown Park.
"I was in Fiji, spending holidays with my family and then I had a call from my manager Rex Dawkins and I was happy to hear that the Phoenix wanted to sign me."
The 26-year-old couldn't stop smiling yesterday but he is unlikely to feature in Sunday's home game against Central Coast as coach Ernie Merrick brings him up to speed with the Phoenix style.
When he does take the field he will become the first Fijian to play in the A-League, and Krishna said it was big news back home.
"Oh yes, it is. I've got a lot of phone calls from Fiji, wishing me all the best. It's great that people from Fiji are supporting me. Obviously it's a proud moment, that I'm the only Fijian that's going to play in the A-League. It's history, so I'm going to cherish it."
Krishna moved to New Zealand in 2008 and he has also scored 14 times in 22 games for Fiji.
His prolific goalscoring for club and country had given him confidence that he could make the step up to the A-League.
An excellent strike for Auckland City against Raja Casablanca at last year's Club World Cup in Morocco only cemented that belief.
"Scoring at that big occasion, against a big team, professionals, and a big crowd, it gives me that momentum and confidence to score goals. I've been scoring goals for my previous club and at the moment I'm doing well. So it is a great opportunity for me to shine for the Phoenix."
Krishna was crystal clear about his biggest strength - "speed" - but it is the pace of the ball movement that will test him at this level.
"Here, the training sessions are fast paced. You've got to pass and move the ball very quick and at the moment it is very fast. So I'm getting used to the pace and we'll see how it goes."
Australian Milos Lujic, who has signed a two-week contract with the Phoenix, also trained yesterday and is a tall, traditional centre forward.
Captain Andrew Durante missed yesterday's session with a virus but is not in doubt for the Mariners.
Merrick indicated there would likely be two changes, with Michael Boxall replacing the injured Louis Fenton at right back and a fit-again Carlos Hernandez coming in for Jason Hicks in midfield.
But young Kiwis Tyler Boyd and Matthew Ridenton are starting to put real pressure on internationals Jeremy Brockie and Kenny Cunningham.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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