Zahra Grateful For Heart Opportunity

Melbourne Heart FC's Adrian Zahra has admitted he was surprised to secure a starting berth for the Club's match-up against the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

Melbourne Heart FC's Adrian Zahra has admitted he was surprised to secure a starting berth for the Club's match-up against the Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.

Having only recently joined the Club on a short-term deal, the reigning Victorian Premier League Under-21 Player of the Year completed a meteoric rise with an impressive debut performance.

Zahra thanked the Club's coaching staff for their support in giving him a chance to show his wares across the Tasman.

“I was confident from the game before (against Victory) but didn't know until we flew out that I would be involved. We knew there was a bit of a difficulty with Alex Terra's injury so it was a bit of a surprise for me,” he said.

“I was very anxious, and obviously a bit surprised to come off the bench against Victory, but I prepared mentally for what the coach wanted me to do and I was very grateful (to the Club for the opportunity.”

Zahra had a helping hand in securing Heart-s opening goal, earning the penalty which was converted by Club top scorer John Aloisi.

“There was definitely contact, I was relieved that the referee blew his whistle and pointed to the spot,” he said.

As one of four Victorian Premier League graduates to feature for Heart this season, Zahra-s rise highlights Heart-s ongoing commitment to promoting elite local talent.

And the former Melbourne Knight believes there remain other VPL players capable of making the leap to the Hyundai A-League.

“There's still a pretty big step up (from VPL to Hyundai A-League), but there's definitely a few boys out there who could do well if given an opportunity,” he said.

“It is more intense, quicker, and you need to concentrate more. I am small and quick. When I was younger I was more of an attacking midfielder, but coming into the seniors I have had to become more versatile.”

Assistant Coach Jesper Olsen said the Club has been pleased by Zahra-s progress since initially joining Heart as a triallist.

“I think Adrian has spent quite a bit of time with us and got used to the group as well. It-s one of those things John has said from the beginning, ‘if you-re good enough, you-re old enough-,” he said.

“Adrian came in (as a substitute) in the last game, and this time he started and did really well. We are really pleased with his progress.”