'Four months of hell' over for returning Kiwi striker

Joel Stevens
Joel Stevens
Joel Stevens has returned to New Zealand after ''four months of hell''.

The former Dunedin striker has signed with Team Wellington for the remainder of the national premiership.

That came after a frustrating time with Husqvarna, in Sweden, which the 23-year-old dubbed ''the classic football tale of nothing going right''.

He made 21 appearances for the side in the first half of the season.

However, there had been unhappiness with the head coach within the team. He wanted to play a long ball style not suited to its short, fast players.

Several of the top performers stopped being selected, including Stevens, and they were left without an explanation.

From there it won just one more game - when those previous starters came on as subs and all scored goals.

When the club refused to let the coach go, three assistant coaches left and Stevens eventually followed.

The head coach was sacked two days later.

Stevens decided to pursue options in Europe, but that became difficult when his old club warned others off.

A top league Slovakian club offered him a trial and a contract.

However, its coach was sacked and that fell through.

He began getting offers for trials as word got out he was heading home, but it was too late.

''I was just over it by that point,'' he said.

''I said, 'I really don't want to do this anymore'.

''It had been four months of hell, pretty much, an emotional roller coaster.

''I just wanted to come home.''

He was looking forward to getting back to playing and enjoying his football.

Getting back into the All Whites - for which he has three caps - was a goal. Likewise, making it back to the Wellington Phoenix would be ''the dream''.

Returning to Europe was not out of the question in the future.

However, he said he now had a greater appreciation of what was meant by being in the right place at the right time.

''I didn't read too much into it, but in football you need a lot of luck.

''It is obviously your skill and everything, but for me especially, my experience, I'd say it was 30% skill and 70% luck.''

He said it could come down to how you played in the small snippets coaches from higher leagues saw of your games - sometimes 10 minutes.

Despite that he felt, it was an achievable goal for New Zealanders, but the situation was key.

''It's just about the timing and going to the right place at the right time, the right coach and stuff.

''So that's the most frustrating thing for me.''

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