After conquering the swimming pool and honing his boxing skills to earn a long-awaited Hyundai A-League debut, the next challenge for Robert Koren is the biggest yet – to help Melbourne City FC ‘become one of the biggest clubs in Australia’.
The former Hull City and West Bromwich Albion player finally made his bow off the bench in the 1-0 derby win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday night and will now be keen for more playing time before January’s break for the Asian Cup.
“I’m expecting much more to come,” he said.
“I came here to help the club and help the young players. Hopefully I can do the job for the club.”
City host league leaders Perth Glory on Friday, with another substitute appearance a strong possibility for the Slovenian, who is unlikely to play the full 90 minutes at this stage of his comeback.
“It’s up to the manager to pick the team, the guys have done well in the last two games,” he said.
“If I’m coming from the bench I will do my best.”
The 34-year-old revealed the ambition of City to become an A-League powerhouse was a key factor behind his relocation from Europe to Australia in the off-season.
“I was looking for a new challenge,” he said.
“When I first had contact with Melbourne City, I was really happy about what they wanted to achieve in the future. We need to go step by step but I’d like to help the team grow to become one of the biggest clubs in Australia.”
Koren endured a frustrating spell on the sidelines after suffering a setback in his rehabilitation, forced to put in the hard work in the gym and the pool rather than training outside with his new team-mates.
“It was a long period, I’d been out for 10 weeks,” he said.
“I worked really hard, boxing and swimming and the bike. When you’re coming so close it’s hard to be patient. The medical staff and coaching staff have done really good to hold me back. It’s hard when you’re seeing players running around.
“I did know how to swim but not as good as I can now, because to practice every second day brings you to another level. Still struggling to defend in boxing, I like to attack. It’s easier to attack.”
If that philosophy transfers from the ring to the football field in the 2015, Koren, who will be joined by domestic marquee Josh Kennedy in attack after the Asian Cup, could yet help to transform City’s campaign.