Daniel’s loyalty to club rewarded
FOOTBALL: When Daniel Kleinhans made his comeback from long-term injury against Northern Fury last weekend, he became Western Pride's longest serving senior player.
The defender missed over a year of football after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in the lead-up to the National Premier Leagues 2015 season.
Kleinhans was handed his first senior appearance in almost two years in the 2-2 draw against Fury after regulars Al Wallis and Will Mcfarlane missed the match through suspension.
Kleinhans was pleased to finally play another senior match.
"It was pretty exciting to be called up for my first senior game after so long, but the nerves before the game definitely kicked in," Kleinhans said.
"Although my performance wasn't too bad, apart from a few mistakes, I was happy to just get my chance."
Last weekend's start also ensured Kleinhans became the last remaining player to have also played in in Pride's foundation squad.
The then-Bremer State High School student joined Pride as a 16-year old in 2013 as part of the club's inaugural youth intake.
He quickly impressed and soon made a number of senior appearances in his first two seasons before injury hit last year.
This year marked the first time Pride entered a season without any of its foundation seniors after the summer departure of Lincoln Rule, Chris Scott and Peter Drager, and with Kleinhans still recovering from injury.
But the Raceview junior's successful return to fitness has re-established the link to Pride's first year. It re-inforced its long-term mission of providing a pathway for Ipswich-based players.
Kleinhans said he noticed massive changes at Pride over the years since the club started.
"The changes that Karl Dodd brought in last year and what Graham Harvey has continued about giving young players a go has been great," Kleinhans said.
"Playing for Pride has taught me so much more about football, and to play with passion for yourself and the club."
Pride hopes such passion will secure it a double against Brisbane City on Saturday night after winning the reverse fixture 4-2 earlier in the season.
Kleinhans conceded with Wallis and Mcfarlane now available it would be difficult to hold his place but he wasn't complaining.
"With Will and Al coming back it's a massive bonus to the team," Kleinhans said.
"Both players had been playing really good lately, so to try and beat them for their positions will be hard, but I'll do what I can to hopefully play."
Kleinhans said this year for him was more about training hard and getting game time.
"After my reconstruction I found I had lost a lot of fitness and simple touch of the ball, so I want to get that back," Kleinhans said.
"Since having my knee reconstruction I'm really just trying to get back into the first team, but I do dream of an A-league career."
NPL: Saturday (6.30pm) - Western Pride v Brisbane City at Newmarket.