When the Socceroos defender signed a big-money contract with Saudi Arabian giants Al Hilal in January, he cried.

But his tears weren't ones of joy, they were full of sadness at leaving a club he'd grown to love in Serbian team Red Star Belgrade.

The 25-year-old, who was in camp with Australia at the Asian Cup at the time, says he wept for an hour and a half in his hotel room after confirming the move.

Six months later Degenek re-signed with Belgrade and found himself back in the European Champions League for a second consecutive season.

It's a scenario he hardly imagined after signing the three-and-a-half year deal with Al Hilal.

"I thought once I'd left Red Star, I thought my European career was almost certainly done," Degenek revealed.

"I thought it was going to be very difficult to get back in to European football and get back to playing in a major tournament like the Champions League.

"In the back of my mind, I really wanted it to happen again. I really wanted to believe in it but I was aware that it was going to be very difficult.

"Six months later it's all happening again and I'm very grateful that I've got the chance."

The status that comes with Degenek being the only member of Australia's current squad playing in the Champions League has not been missed ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifier in Taiwan.

Degenek happily posed for photos and signed a Red Star shirt with his name on the back after a fan brought it to the team hotel in Kaohsiung.

Being the only Australian in Europe's elite competition is something that gives Degenek immense pride.

"It's something that makes me feel good and feel special because it proves that hard work and dedication, just believing a little bit more in yourself, everything's possible," he said.

"You don't have to regret things or look back on things."

When Degenek returns to Europe the next big challenge will be a trip to London to take on Tottenham, with Red Star knowing a win over Spurs would put them in a strong position to qualify from their group.

First though is the Socceroos clash with Group B minnows Taiwan.

After sitting out last week's 5-0 win over Nepal in Canberra, Degenek will line up alongside Scottish-born Harry Souttar in the heart of the defence as Australia aim to make it three wins from three.

"I was happy to be in Canberra with the boys and we celebrated a great win," he said. "Tuesday's a big game and I'm very excited and looking forward to the game."

Tuesday's match kicks off at 10.40pm AEDT.