Ready to return

Heading back to Australian shores, JOEL PORTER is determined to feature in the scorer’s charts and return to the Socceroos fold

Heading back to Australian shores, JOEL PORTER is determined to feature in the scorer-s charts and return to the Socceroos fold

You were close to returning to Wellington last season, why didn-t that eventuate? I had a funny contract. Basically it expired, but Hartlepool had the option of extending it by a year and unfortunately, or fortunately, after the season I-ve had, they decided to keep me even though I didn-t want to stay. But it hasn-t worked out too bad this season, having scored 16 goals, so I guess things happen for a reason.

With all due respect to Wellington, I imagine you would be pretty happy with the way things have panned out - I mean, you-ll be living on the Gold Coast. At the time the Wellington deal was a great deal and I was looking forward to it. They were looking to the future, trying to build a solid team and push for the top four. It didn-t work out but they came in again recently as well as the Gold Coast. It just so happened that the Gold Coast deal was better not just for me but for the family also.

You-ve been in the UK a while now, was this the breakthrough season for you? Last year I only played half the season. The first half of it I was starting on the bench, coming on for the last 20 or 25 minutes. I started to establish myself in the second half of the season and that-s when the goals came. But I-ve definitely come of age this season. But I feel it-s time to come back and put back into the Australian game what I-ve learnt here.

Gold Coast have created quite a buzz in the last few months, particularly with the acquisition of Jason Culina, you must be excited to be joining such an ambitious club. From what I hear the club-s expectations are to be up there from the start, which is one of the reasons I decided to go there. I knew they were chasing Jason and it-s great that they-ve got him. He-s been great at PSV and it was a big decision for him to come back but it will be great to play alongside him. Hopefully with him and Shane Smeltz up front we can make a formidable partnership.

What are your own expectations and have you set yourself targets? I-ve got aims to take Gold Coast into the top two and everyone sets targets. When I go out every pre-season I set myself a target and when I come back I-ll certainly have targets, both team and personal ones.

Are you capable of challenging Smeltz for the golden boot award? I think a few people in our team will be capable of scoring lots of goals, they-ve signed some great players and on paper it-s a very good team, as long as Miron gets us gelling together now. Shane was top scorer this season so he-s capable of doing it and hopefully I can provide him with some and hopefully he can return the favour.

You have four Socceroos caps, are you realistically hoping to add to those? Being so far away and not being in the top league you don-t get the high profile recognition that most of the other overseas boys get but hopefully scoring goals in League One has given the coach (Pim Verbeek) something to think about - but we do have some great strikers playing in Europe so I-ve got to be realistic. Playing back in the A-League will hopefully give me more of a profile. I-ve had no correspondence regarding the Socceroos, but I don-t regret what I-ve done over here. I tried to come here and get my profile up but injuries set in and I lost touch with the Australian team and it-s been a battle trying to be recognised again.