He still plays the scene over in his head: a successful two week trial, the call-up to the office, waiting downstairs with his father while his agent put the finishing touches to the dream deal.

Half a world away the rest of his family prepared to join him in Italy.

To this day he doesn’t know what happened, but an hour later the agent returned to say the “deal’s off”.

Gaitatzis moved on, and the next week he signed with Bundesliga outfit Arminia Bielefeld. He later had a spell with Hector Cuper at Aris Salonika in Greece as well as time in the lower leagues of Italy.

Now, after seven years playing in Europe, the gifted attacking midfielder has returned home to get his career back on track.

He was a key figure in Bonnyrigg White Eagles' Premiership triumph in the NSWPL last season – chipping in with seven goals – and this year will be back where it all started, lining up for Blacktown City Demons.

The 25-year-old is the first to admit his football career hasn’t gone to plan but bristles at attempts to pigeonhole him as a cautionary tale for young players. He insists he still has too much to offer on the pitch.

“I loved my time over there,” Gaitatzis said. “I had some good times and certainly learned a lot.

"Football’s like a religion over there really – that’s all that anyone over there worries about is football, football, football.

“But definitely for players – they should understand who they're talking to and who’s representing them.

“Make sure their agent is not just worrying about themselves and actually trying to benefit the player. It’s very important the player is put in the right country, in the right place and the right team to develop them – especially as a young player.”

Promises can be easily made and just as easily broken, he warns.

Demons football director, Ken Schembri has known the player since his junior days and says the return of Gaitatzis heralds a big year for the club.

He is a technician, he says, mobile, athletic and with the kind of match-winning game smarts that are often the difference between mid-table mediocrity and title contenders.

He scored twice against the Demons last year, Schembri adds with surprising good humour.

“We very specifically wanted to get him back to our club,” he said.  “We think he’s one of the factors that we were missing last year.

“Harris can go out wide as well but we like him in the middle of the park for his touch."

Bonnyrigg used him out wide to great effect, and he is comfortable anywhere in the attacking third, but Gaitatzis is a classic number 10 - a role often frequented by marquees and big names.

“If you’ve got a really good number 9 off him, he’s going to make him look good and create for him, and the number 9 will be banging in a few goals,” Schembri said. “That’s the way we look at it.”

Gaitatzis was a contemporary of Adelaide United's Bruce Djite and fellow Demon alumnus Oliver Bozanic from Central Coast Mariuners.

And as a youth player growing up, Schembri says Harris was every bit as good – and maybe better.

“At junior football, in my view, he was one of the best junior players ever to go through my club,” he said.

“He was certainly at their level, if not exceeding them as a youth player.”

But as yet the A-League hasn’t come calling. There have been a couple of training games with clubs, with a sniff of interest from Central Coast Mariners and Newcastle Jets.

Now he hopes another good run in the state league this year, in his favoured position, could be the clincher.

“I’m quite surprised that he hasn’t been picked up yet - I think he’s got A-League material written all over him, Schembri said.

“Hopefully one of them will give him an opportunity next season. He’s certainly a player that I think clubs will be watching this year for sure.”

Gaitatzis says the local football landscape has been transformed since he first left for Europe as a teenager and he’s keen to be a part of it.

“It has improved a lot – technically, tactically, pretty much everything,” he said. “I chose a different path to go overseas at a young age. Any young players dream is to play in Europe.

“But in football things can change in a second – so we’ll see what happens now.”