Scrapheap to Champions League for Behich

Aziz Behich's A-League final heartache is now a distant memory for the new PSV Eindhoven defender.
Aziz Behich's A-League final heartache is now a distant memory for the new PSV Eindhoven defender.

Eight years ago, Aziz Behich etched his name into A-League folklore for all the wrong reasons.

His horrendous miss from point-blank range in the 2010 grand final is still rued by Melbourne Victory fans as the moment they coughed up the championship against bitter rivals Sydney FC.

Released from his contract a few weeks later by then-coach Ernie Merrick, it appeared Behich was a million miles away from realising his footballing dreams.

But he kept the faith, worked hard, switched positions from winger to left back - and now his fortunes have changed dramatically, with trips to Camp Nou, San Siro and Wembley on the cards after penning a four-year deal with his new club PSV Eindhoven.

Behich has all that to look forward to after playing every minute of Australia's latest World Cup campaign.

"When I look back at it, it was a big setback," Behich said of his grand final blooper.

"I had to take a big step back into the lower leagues in Victoria and try and work my way up and earn respect again.

"I've realised just growing up and through my parents as well that nothing in life comes easy.

"When you work for it and you get it, it's more satisfaction."

Now 27, Behich appears to have a stranglehold on the left back position in the Socceroos team.

He clearly impressed Bert van Marwijk in Russia and also won over his assistant, Dutch legend Mark van Bommel, who took over as coach of Eredivisie powerhouse PSV Eindhoven after finishing up with the Australian team.

Evidently van Bommel was paying extra close attention during training sessions, having signed Behich from Turkish club Bursaspor not long after snaring the signature of free-agent defender Trent Sainsbury.

"From the first chat we had with what his plans were with the club, it was a pretty easy decision on my behalf," Behich said.

"I learned a lot under him and Bert during the World Cup period and I'm really looking forward to working with him again."

PSV has drawn Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League this season, putting Behich in the frame to be marking some of the world's best players.

Not bad for a bloke who not so long ago was on the A-League scrapheap.

"It was a bit different for me watching the Champions League draw knowing I'm looking at it for myself," Behich said.

"It's really exciting ... a group like that you're pretty much up against the best."

Australian Associated Press