Bosnich 'ready' for return in A-League
It would have to rank as one of Australian soccer's most anticipated comebacks - although the man himself, Mark Bosnich, is doing his best to downplay his return.
Seven years after his last professional appearance, the former Socceroo goalkeeper will complete his climb back from the depths of drug abuse and depression when he straps on the gloves for Central Coast in their A-League match with Queensland Roar on Sunday.
It will likely be the first of a five-game stint for the 36-year-old at the Mariners, with regular `keeper Danny Vukovic to serve a five-match ban as part of his sentence for manhandling referee Matthew Breeze in last season's grand final.
Bosnich impressed in pre-season by saving a Steve Corica penalty and keeping a clean sheet in the Mariners' 3-0 win over Sydney FC last month.
Since then he has signed a seven-week short-term deal with the club in a bid to rejuvenate his career and add an uplifting epilogue to the most controversial of sporting stories.
But while many expect him to be the centre of attention at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon, Bosnich has refused to pump up his return any more than necessary.
"I'm humbling anticipating a game this week, and that's it," Bosnich said.
"I don't really know what to expect.
"I'm very much looking forward to the game, I'm ready. It's a big game for us, we need a win and I'm confident we can get one."
Bosnich's last match of top-tier football was for Chelsea in the English Premier League on November 18, 2001.
On that day, the former Manchester United and Aston Villa shot-stopper was forced off after pulling a thigh muscle while taking a goal-kick late in a 0-0 draw with Everton at Goodison Park.
It proved the start of his dramatic decline as Bosnich was banned for nine months by the Football Association and sacked by Chelsea after testing positive for cocaine in September 2002.
A turbulent relationship with English supermodel Sophie Anderton, weight and drug issues and sex tape controversies made him a popular target for the English tabloids in the years that followed.
He eventually began trying to piece back his career in early 2007 under the guidance of former Chelsea teammate Ed de Goey at Queens Park Rangers, before arriving at the Mariners on trial in June.
After watching the first two rounds from the stands, Bosnich has been suitably impressed with the standard of the A-League.
He was also looking forward to locking horns with former Socceroos teammates Craig Moore and Danny Tiatto on Sunday.
Roar duo Moore and Tiatto both played in Bosnich's last match for Australia on home soil nine years ago against a Brazilian select side at Sydney's Olympic Stadium, a game which also featured Queensland coach Frank Farina.
"Craig Moore and Danny were two exceptional players, and they still are," Bosnich said.
"They're both very experienced internationals, and did the business over in the toughest leagues in the world.
"I'm really looking forward to playing against them this week."