He’s come a long way from the teenager who used to take the tram down Clarendon Street to training, but the familiar nerves are back for Melbourne City coach Patrick Kisnorbo ahead of his return to South Melbourne.
Kisnorbo started his professional career at the former NSL powerhouse, playing 67 senior games between 2000-2003 before heading overseas, later playing for Leeds United, Leicester City and the Socceroos.
On Friday night he’ll look to bring his former club undone when City travel to Lakeside Stadium for their FFA Cup round-of-32 clash, but he couldn’t help cracking a grin at the thought of a reunion.
“It’s a weird one to be honest with you,” Kisnorbo told reporters on Thursday.
“I started my professional career there at 15 and it’s crazy that we get drawn them. It’s gonna be great.”
Now 40, Kisnorbo said he owed plenty to the early lessons he experienced at South Melbourne.
“Because I was still underage, I used to catch the tram to Clarendon Street and walk down,” he said.
“That whole process of walking down and going to the change rooms, I always used to be nervous because (of) all the big players, Ange (Postecoglou) started, then Mickey P (Mike Petersen).
“It was the whole thing of going to training knowing that you’re playing and training with some of the best players in Australia. That was probably the start of my education.
“The other bits were great, winning a title and winning a best and fairest, that’s OK, but the start was when the most exciting time was.”
City will be without Socceroos Jamie Maclaren, Mathew Leckie and Andrew Nabbout, meaning youngsters Marco Tilio and Stefan Colakovski, who shone in last season’s finals series, are likely to get a chance to impress in attack.
Friday night marks City’s first competitive match since June’s A-League Men grand final win, with the clash a timely tune-up a week out from their season-opener against Brisbane Roar.
But Kisnorbo won’t be underestimating the Victorian NPL club, who he expected to be buoyed by a typically vocal crowd.
“I never thought the day would come that I would return there in some sort of capacity,” he said.
“Obviously tomorrow night is a chance that I can do it.
“But it’s not about me, it’s about the team and how we perform and it’s a chance to play a game and prepare for the game next week as well.
“… It’s gonna be a tough game and hopefully a great atmosphere for everyone.”