THE Monaro Panthers’ newest recruit Jonathan Reis says he almost walked away from the sport after suffering a debilitating hip injury.
A member of Australia’s under-17 World Cup qualifying squad in 2008, Reis was playing with Sydney Olympic in the NSW Premier League two years ago when he was told he would require a hip arthroscopy.
After being initially treated for minor groin tears, specialists discovered Reis had a bone spur growing on the inside of his hip joint that required surgery.
The unwelcome news couldn’t have come at a worse time for the talented left-footed defender who saw his promising career brought to an abrupt halt.
‘‘When you spend the majority of your life training five days a week, playing every weekend and finally seeing something come of it, to then have that taken away, it’s difficult to explain that feeling,’’ Reis said.
‘‘I was going to use that year in the NSW Premier League as a base to get my name out there.
‘‘I’d spent two years training with the AIS with the best juniors in Australia, I had trials lined up with the Central Coast Mariners, but it just didn’t work out.’’
The setback forced Reis to re-evaluate, eventually leading to the former ACT Academy of Sport standout to turn his back on football and instead take on a law degree at the University of Canberra.
A family friendship between Reis’ father and Monaro Panthers coach Frank Cachia, however, helped to lure him back to the pitch.
‘‘My old man is good mates with Frank and they had a bit of a chat about things and suggested I come down to training one night and have a look,’’ Reis said.
That lone training session was enough to see the 22-year-old sign on for the Panthers 2012 campaign in a huge boost for the rebuilding club.
In his first game in Monaro colours last weekend against Canberra FC, Reis proved more than capable of holding his own despite self-admittedly ‘‘carrying a few extra kilos.’’
It was an auspicious debut and a performance that suggests Reis has lost little of the skill that at one stage saw him dreaming of an A-League call up.
Despite having been coaxed back to the footy field, he said he had no ambitions of having another crack at making it big.
‘‘I’ve got a good job here in Canberra, I’ve got a beautiful girlfriend and I’m doing well at university so I can’t complain about how things have turned out.’’