Former Perth Glory midfielder Rostyn Griffiths goes 1v1 to the PFA to discuss last season with Dutch club Roda JC, the ups and downs of trying forge a career in Europe and why he is not yet ready to return to the A-League.

PFA: After the 2014/15 season with the Glory you made the decision to try your luck again Europe. After having previously played for Blackburn Rovers was that something that you had been eager to do for a while?

RG: Ever since I had left China I knew I had wanted to go back to Europe at some point, it was just a matter of finding the right time. The whole time I was at Perth I was thinking in the back of my mind ‘I need to get back to Europe.’ The reason I wanted to go back was that I wanted to see it I could play at that level. I had played in England and was looking for a different challenge and when the option to go to Roda came up it was too hard to turn down.

PFA: Before you joined Roda, you were on trial for a number of weeks in England with Birmingham City. A lot players may not have experienced what it is like to turn up to a club on the other side of the world eager to impress, can you give us an insight into it?

RG: It was more daunting than it should have been for me. Birmingham is a big club in Britian and I was a bit overawed with the big training ground, security guards and then you are trying to find the manager and make sure everything is ok. The football was so fast. The first few days I was thinking ‘I am going to struggle’ but then you get used to it after a few days.

PFA: During your time on trial the offer came in from Roda, was it a pretty straight forward decision to accept it?

RG: Initially I wanted to be outside the UK having played there before, but early on I had no contacts outside of the UK and that is why I went on trial at Birmingham and while I was there I was really enjoying it, but when you get a concrete offer you kind of have to take it. I made the right decision and I really enjoyed life on and off the pitch in the Netherlands.

PFA: Players often speak about the settling in period into a new country and club, but how did you adjust early on?

RG: The Dutch speak really good English so away from football it wasn’t too bad, but often in team meetings it was in Dutch so you were getting everything second hand and that made it frustrating, especially if you wanted to be more imposing and communicate with other players. Secondly it was a very different style of football. In the Netherlands it’s a very technical game and perhaps not as hard working and physical, and a big part of my game was physicality and that got me into a bit of trouble every week early on and I had to change my game. Apart from that it was a pretty easy country to adapt to.
PFA: Your secured a starting spot straight away and were a key part in the club’s early success, did it surprise you how quickly you did that?

RG: When you are footballer you try to not over think it and try to just do your job. As soon as I was there I realised I had something to give to that team, I was a different style of player and I was bit more experienced than most in the team. We were successful straight off the bat and beat some big teams and that helped. Maybe me playing straight away shocked some people early on back home but I was pretty confident I would.

PFA: Some injuries and some new recruits in the January transfer window put a halt to your season from a personal perspective. How did you cope with the disappointment of being out of the team?

RG: It was really difficult especially after such a good start. I think the politics of football started to play a part in me not playing so much as I was on a one year deal and they brought in some new players in January that were going to be there for longer and that was frustrating because the team was not doing well either and I thought I should have been playing.

PFA: You made the decision to depart just before the end of the season, why did you feel that was the right decision to make?

RG: The decision to leave was pretty easy for me. I am not a kid anymore and the club was going in a direction which I was not keen to follow. I don’t want to waste time not playing, I want to play at a club that shares my ambition and also one that values me and it became clear those two things were not the case. It left a sour taste because of how well it started but these things happen in football and I have no ill feeling towards the club I just didn’t have time to waste.

PFA: Did last season reinforce just how difficult it is be successful in Europe?

RG: As soon as you turn up you realise there is a squad of 30 or 40 players and they have four or five players in every position and that is very different to the squad sizes in the A-League. The early part I think is the easy part because it is exciting and you are running on adrenaline but after six months or so it becomes much harder. It was easier for me because I had done it before with Blackburn but for young players coming over for the first time it is really tough. I have a lot of respect for players that have played overseas for a long time because it is not easy on and off the pitch. In Australia it can be very different because things are much more familiar.

PFA: You are off contract now, what are your plans for next season?

RG: One thing I was pleased with was that last year with Roda let me know what level I am at, so I feel more content, but I would like to stay away from Australia for a bit longer and experience playing in different countries. I feel I get the best out of myself when I am out of my comfort zone so hopefully I can get it all resolved in the next couple of weeks.

Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with a current or former member to gain insight into the lives of footballers on and off the pitch.