Jason Culina is set to make a return to the A-League after more than a year and a half on the sidelines, with Sydney FC securing the midfielder's services for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.
Culina suffered a serious knee injury while playing for Gold Coast United in early 2011, forcing him into rehabilitation. The 32-year-old was then signed by the Newcastle Jets as a marquee player before being released upon news of the severity of his injury.
Culina then began training with Sydney FC as part of the recovery process and on Friday he put pen to paper on a deal that he hopes will revive his career.
"It's absolutely brilliant to be back," Culina said. "It's something that kept me awake at night, thinking about playing again so I'm really happy and grateful to have the opportunity to continue my career so close to home with a club like Sydney FC.
"There were times I thought I wanted to give up but I knew that if I put in the effort and commitment I could get back so I never gave up on the desire to play again.
"I've had to put in a lot of hard work and some days it has been hard but I'd like to sincerely thank Stan Ivancic [Sydney FC physiotherapist] and the Sydney FC medical staff for what they did in helping me with my rehab at what was a tough time. Without them I wouldn't be where I am at the moment."
Culina became the first regular Socceroos member to return to the A-League after signing for Gold Coast from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven.
It is unclear when he will make his first appearance for the Sky Blues, but Culina is eager to make an impression in his home town.
"It's always special when you play for a big club and when it is also in your home town it's extra special," he said. "I just have to continue working hard to make sure I can get to the point where I can start playing and repay the faith that has been shown in me."
Sydney FC coach Ian Crook lauded Culina's persistence in regaining fitness to make a return to the A-League.
"Jason has had to go through a lot to get to this point and we're very happy to have him join Sydney FC," Crook said. "He has shown he is a tremendous football player, he's now proven his fitness, his desire has been there for all to see throughout the last few months and we're really happy that he has shown his commitment to Sydney FC."