Melbourne City goalkeeper Mark Birighitti says he is stronger person after his stint in Europe.
The 27-year-old arrives in Bundoora battling for the first-choice goalkeeping spot with Eugene Galekovic, who he spent time with as a youngster in his Adelaide United days. He is also reunited with Scott Jamieson and Dario Vidosic.
Birighitti made it clear he has returned to City for more game time after his stints at Swansea and NAC Breda.
He said he matured a lot of after playing 16 games for NAC Breda and said he found the Eredivisie difficult to play in.
"I spent a year at Swansea and I knew after it was time to move on and take the next step to find a club in Europe where I can play," Birighitti told FTBL.
"I was fortunate that Breda believed in me and gave me an opportunity. I played many games there and the Dutch league is fantastic for young players to gain that experience in Europe.
"They had a lot of problems with the goalkeepers and throughout their season, they weren’t happy with the goalkeepers and they started one goalkeeper for the first three games and they didn’t believe in him, so they brought me in.
"It was quite difficult to go there and perform straight away and the supporters are very passionate and have their say."
Birighitti added he was relishing game time with City this season.
"Last year was a solid year in Holland, I played a lot of games and things change at the club," he said.
"A new coach came in and he had different ideas and plans and he brought in one of the goalkeepers at his old club. It was difficult for me and at this stage in my career, it’s important to be playing every week and I thought Melbourne City was a perfect fit.
"If I was going to come back to the A-League, it was always going to be City because of their links and the club in general has come so far.
"Speaking with the gaffer, I liked his ideas and what he had planned and I think we’ll be fighting for the championship and it’s something I want to be a part of and that’s why I chose City."
Birighitti has signed for City in a three-year contract, but did not rule out returning to Europe in the near future.
He also denied he was disappointed to be back in the A-League after his stints in Europe.
"If you see the setup at City, not many clubs in Europe and Australia have the facilities we do at City," Birighitti said.
"Coming back wasn’t difficult at all, I know the league and I was involved for many years. It’s a league I can do well in and hopefully I have a good season and we’ll see what happens in the future.
"It’s something I’d like to get back to, but I don’t want to set long-term goals. I just want to perform well and the rest will take care of itself."
Birighitti is yet to play a competitive game for City as Galekovic started in their 2-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in the FFA Cup quarter-final.
It is the Melbourne Derby on Saturday and Birighitti recalls playing against Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie as the biggest games of his career.
He added he was excited to meet Melbourne Victory at Marvel Stadium.
"I kept a close eye on the A-League last year and City were so close to making the Grand Final," he said.
"There’s a sense of feeling at the club this year that it’s a bit of revenge and everyone is hungry and fighting. Our results have been good in preseason and we haven’t conceded many goals.
"In my Newcastle days, the Melbourne Derby was always a game we’d try and watch because it’s an epic battle and to be part of one will be very exciting. There will be a big crowd and these are the games you’ll be involved in."