The silver lining to Saturday night’s loss to Sydney came in the 64th minute as Bruno Fornaroli made his first competitive appearance in almost six months, making his return from a serious ankle injury.
The period on the sidelines has been an emotional rollercoaster for the Uruguyan - which culminated in his 30 minute cameo on Saturday - and the man who wears his heart on his sleeve was not hiding how he felt coming back to the field in a City shirt.
“I wanted to cry in that moment,” he said.
“Not only because of the fans, but because I really pushed a lot every day to come back. I worked and I waited a lot of time for, so I was very happy, very happy.
“I had some days that were very difficult because I thought I felt good and when I started training, there was pain again. There were moments for me but I don’t look back, I tried to think ahead.
“I want to say thank you to the medical staff, my teammates, the coaches and all the club for supporting me. Thank you also to the fans. It’s amazing to come back here at AAMI Park because I can feel the fans close to me and this is very important to me, it pushed me on.”
Fornaroli was still disappointed in the result that saw league-leaders Sydney walk away with a convincing win but the first steps towards returning to full fitness were positive for the striker who looked lively during his short time on the pitch.
“I feel good, but at the same time I feel that it’s not my level,” he said.
“Sometimes I turn quickly or my mind thinks something and my leg didn’t respond. It takes another second, and I want to catch this, I want to feel 110% again.
“I think we started well tonight. After we lost control and they scored, we opened up the space and their great players started to play I think we lost our control.
“I believe in this team, I believe in my teammates, I believe in this club and my coaches. We are going to continue, we have a lot of games in front of us and we have to prepare for the finals. I think we can finish in the top three and try to win the Grand Final this year.”
With the first hurdle out of the way, Fornaroli and his side will have a week’s break from the A-League’s split round before heading to Perth to take on the Glory on Saturday 24 February.