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Official: Persistence pays off, as Jason Culina signs a deal with Sydney FC

Having not played since the 2011 Asian Cup, the former Socceroo now has a chance to revive his career at Sydney FC, alongside the likes of Alessandro Del Piero Indonesia   By SPORTAL

One-time Gold Coast United captain Jason Culina is poised to return from a serious knee injury to the A-League after signing a one-year contract with Sydney FC.

The former Australia international midfielder missed all of last season after suffering his knee injury towards the end of the 2010-11 campaign with Gold Coast, one that ultimately forced the 32-year-old to have a reconstruction.

At the time, Culina had been signed from Gold Coast as a marquee player for the Newcastle Jets, who were coached by his father, Branko.

But the news that Jason's knee injury was worse than first thought and that he would miss the entire season following his surgery did not go down well with the Jets, who parted ways with both Culinas just before the 2011-12 season began.

Culina had linked up with the Sky Blues during the off-season in order to build his fitness ahead of a potential comeback.

Sydney FC announced the signing on Friday, with Culina, 32, expressing his delight at a chance to reignite his career.

"It's absolutely brilliant to be back," Culina said via club statement. "It's something that kept me awake at night, thinking about playing again so I'm really happy and grateful to have the opportunity to continue my career so close to home with a club like Sydney FC.

"There were times I thought I wanted to give up but I knew that if I put in the effort and commitment I could get back so I never gave up on the desire to play again.

"I've had to put in a lot of hard work and some days it has been hard but I'd like to sincerely thank Stan Ivancic [Sydney FC physiotherapist] and the Sydney FC medical staff for what they did in helping me with my rehab at what was a tough time. Without them I wouldn't be where I am at the moment."

Sky Blues coach Ian Crook praised Culina's determination to return to the pitch, labelling his signing as a "great addition" to the club's squad.

Sydney FC take on Newcastle on Saturday at Allianz Stadium, in the first time local supporters have the chance to see marquee man Alessandro Del Piero in action.

The match may come too soon for Culina's inclusion, but it would come as a massive lift for the side after their underwhelming loss in Wellington last Saturday.

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