Aussie midfielder Ryan Edwards says “it’s scary” how close he came to ditching his overseas dream before Partick Thistle threw him a lifeline.
Edwards went from a high in 2011, when he signed a four-year deal with Championship side Reading, to training alone in a public park.
The 23-year-old youth international was on the verge of booking a flight home in 2015 when the Jags came calling with an opportunity to rebuild his career in the Scottish Premiership.
“You could say the trial here was the last throw of the dice. If this one didn’t work out I was getting on the plane home,” Edwards told the Daily Record.
“It would have been the easy option to go back to Australia – and it’s scary to think how close I came.
“I’d always wanted to make a career in Europe so I wasn’t going to let myself give it up without a fight but I was running out of options.
“I left Reading and most footballers will tell you it’s difficult to find another club when you haven’t played many games and your name isn’t known.
“I had a trial with Chesterfield which didn’t work out but I thought, ‘Okay, that’s only the first one. That’s fine’. Then I went to Gillingham and it didn’t work out again but I was still thinking, ‘That’s OK, it’s just a matter of opinions’.
“I felt it was just a matter of time but then there was a period of about four weeks when I was training myself in the park across from the London flat where I was staying with my girlfriend Oana and her brother.
“There was an astroturf pitch there and one day the gate was open so I thought it was a great chance to train on a flat surface for a change instead of the bobbly grass I’d been working on.
“Within two minutes a guy comes walking over to me saying, ‘Have you paid?’ I told him I thought this was a public park, the gate was open so I’d just walked in but he got really angry with me and told me to get out.
“I picked up my stuff and sheepishly went back to the bobbly grass outside. At that point you start anxiously knocking on your agent’s door. Anything?”
Edwards, who had a one-year loan with Perth Glory in 2013/14, signed a one-year contract with Partick Thistle in September last year and made his debut as a substitute in a 3–0 win over Dundee United.
His first goal for the club was in March this year, and a month later he extended his contract until 2018.
Edwards told the Daily Record: “Every day I believed in what I was doing. It meant when I came for my trial at Partick I was still fit and sharp enough to impress.
“Fortunately it all worked out. When I look back I’m so thankful I stuck in and kept faith in what I was doing.
“An old coach of mine in Australia once said something that always sticks with me – make sure there are no ‘ifs’.
“You do whatever you possibly can so when you finish a training session or a game you ask yourself, was there a what if? What if you’d tracked that runner, what if you had that shot? What if I gave up and went back to Australia?
“Thankfully I’ll never have to ask myself that question. And it’s been great.”