BRENDAN Gan burst onto the A-League scene with a match-winning goal for Sydney FC in just his second match in 2008.
Football NSW Premier League player of the year, Gan was cast aside by the club at the end of 2011 and, without an Australian contract, he headed to the Malaysian Super League.
He has just returned from a one-season stint with Sabah FA which he said took him out of his comfort zone and helped him to "discover himself as a footballer and a person".
Now 24, Gan has signed with Rockdale City Suns with a firm eye on returning to the A-League. "I want to push myself to make it back there," Gan said.
"You can't just jump straight back into the A-League but if I play well there will be opportunities."
A phone call from new Suns' coach Branko Culina helped persuade Gan to join the side.
The forward had been back in Australia for less than a week before committing to them, overlooking his junior club Sutherland.
"We had a lengthy chat about his plans for the team and what Rockdale wants to strive for," Gan said.
"It sounds like Rockdale have paid their dues and are now established.
"They don't want to plod around mid-table and we hope to be one of the top teams."
Gan joins a list of exciting new recruits, including former Sydney FC pair Sam Munro and Adam Casey, and overseas players including Diego Barcena, Seiya Kawamura and Jun Kato.
'My move was based on trying to get some game time and experience at a high level," he said. "It was a great experience."
He settled into the picturesque seaside city of Kota Kinabalu.
His side struggled, and despite being of Malaysian heritage, Gan was considered one of two overseas imports.
Although eligible to commit to the Malaysian national team through his father, Gan is hesitant as he would have to forfeit his Australian passport.
"I didn't know much of the language," Gan said. "The standard of football is different, and they rely on the passing game."
The Leader understands Rockdale will host Blacktown City on Sunday, March 17, in their
first round game.