'Love of the game' drives Josh to professional career
PROFESSIONAL footballer Joshua Grommen still remembers the sliding doors moment four years ago which threatened to break, but ultimately shaped, his still-fledgling career.
He had just been dropped from the Queensland Academy of Sport for failing to commit to his training requirements, and was struggling to rediscover his passion for football.
"I just wasn't in the right head space I guess. I wasn't really concentrating on training at the time I was there," Grommen said.
"I'd played football since I was six. From six to 16 . . . I think I got a bit tired of it. I fell out of love with the game, I just wanted to try something new."
The centre back found himself at a crossroads in his football journey, and needed to make a choice. Thankfully his dad Rudy was there to guide him down the right path.
"Dad pulled my head in. I found it (the love of the game) again after a year off," Grommen said.
"I've never looked back."
That year off may have been the best thing the former Western Spirit junior could have done.
Reinvigorated and with a renewed sense of purpose, Grommen found himself at the Western Pride in the 2016-17 pre-season.
However he would never start for the Briggs Rd club, who would go on to win the Queensland NPL grand final that season.
Prior to the season start, Grommen was signed to professional Philippines Football League outfit Ceres-Negros.
He made 10 appearances for the club, which would go on to win the PFL premiership that season and also claim 2017 AFC Cup ASEAN Zone honours.
"That was definitely a career highlight," Grommen said. "It's a big tournament in Asia that one."
He then swapped the yellow and black of Ceres-Negros for the red and blue of Davao Aguilas FC for the 2018 season.
The club finished third in the PFL last year, with Grommen making 14 appearances.
But there would be no more starts in the red and blue, with Davao Aguilas electing to withdraw from the PFL for reasons still unknown.
"A message was sent to the players saying they would not continue in the league, and would be releasing all the players on our roster," Grommen said.
"From there I spoke to a few agents, and found a club playing in Malaysia which was looking for a Filipino centre back. I fit their requirements, and here we are."
That club was Petaling Jaya City, formerly known as MISC-MIFA.
The re-branded club will contest the Malaysia Super League top flight for the first time this season, with Grommen a key component of their central defence.
"The league itself is a lot bigger, the crowds are insane," he said of the MPL. "There was a Cup final last year that got about 80,000 (fans). The average crowd here can be 20-40,000."
The 22-year-old has been training with his new team since January 6, in preparation for the MPL season opener on February 2.
"The team at the moment is looking good. We have a Korean midfielder, two Brazillian strikers and a Brazillian centre back who plays alongside me," Grommen said.
"The rest of the squad are local."
From nearly giving the game away to readying to play in front of tens of thousands of fans each week, it is fair to say Grommen has rediscovered his passion for football.
"When I left Australia to come to the Philippines to play in a professional league, just by training every day I realised what I had been missing and how much I loved the sport," he said.
"You realise how lucky you are to make money by playing sport. The fans as well . . . it gives you this incredible feeling playing in front of a crowd that supports you."