MARIJAN Cvitkovic says he was at the crossroads when osteitis pubis stifled his fledging football career. After helping his St Albans Saints gain promotion in 2010, Cvitkovic was forced to watch on from the sidelines as his teammates ran around in the Victorian Premier League in 2011.
“I missed the entire year in the Premier League competition with St Albans due to osteitis pubis,” Cvitkovic told Star.
“I didn’t really know much about the injury beforehand, so it was one of the hardest things I had to go through.
“It just totally impacts your complete movement, your core strength … everything,” he said.
“I was at the crossroads, to be honest. It was pretty devastating, missing out on a complete year of football.”
Ready to make his comeback but wanting to do so in the VPL, Cvitkovic returned to his childhood club, Melbourne Knights, for the 2012 season.
The now 26-year-old yielded 15 appearances and a goal in his comeback season and went into the off-season feeling better than ever.
Then, under the guidance of new coach Andrew Marth, Cvitkovic flourished in 2013, scoring four goals as an attacking midfielder on his way to claiming a major individual gong.
Last week, Cvitkovic was named the VPL’s best-and-fairest player for 2013, taking out the gold medal with 19 votes to his name.
“I was just pinching myself, to be honest,” Cvitkovic said of the honour.
“It’s a massive honour, so it took me a while for it to set in and realise what it actually means.
“It was a very humbling experience.”
Cvitkovic was keen to acknowledge the impact his move to Somers Street has had on his football throughout the past two years.
“Making the move to the Knights, I basically said to myself it’s just about getting my fitness back to match-fit level, getting used to the pace of the game, obviously my touch and everything you have to do on match day,” he said.
“I just basically spent all of last season trying to work on that.
“I had a really good off-season, a really good pre-season with Stabber (Marth) and the boys, and I suppose the confidence that Stabber and (assistant coach) Frank (Juric) had in me, especially in that role sitting behind the striker in front of the midfielders (in) that free role where you can express yourself completely – it was really good,” Cvitkovic said.
“Obviously for any Melbourne boy with a Croatian background and heritage, it’s the one club you want to play for and support.
“There’s history there and it’s a great privilege considering the players that have been through the club and the legacy they’ve left in Australian football.”