Was it perfect placement or sheer luck?
Justin Gulley’s 73rd minute strike from beyond the box against the Phoenix reserves certainly provided a season highlight.
In typically modest fashion, Gulley played down his favourite moment of his season so far.
“I just saw Lewis (Italiano) off his line and I thought I would just try to guide it in but really it was a bit more a hit-and-hope! But you’ve got to ride your luck every now and then”
Despite his modesty, he doesn’t deny the satisfaction that comes from getting one over his former team.
“I always enjoy playing my former club because you feel like you have something to prove. I get on with most of the boys and it’s good to be able to kick them a few times!”
Gulley’s determination to perform against his local rivals is easily understood. After all, it was the Phoenix who were responsible for both kick-starting and putting a halt to his A-League career.
Despite being “gutted” by the turn of events, Gulley simply accepts this as part of the demanding nature of professional football.
“It’s very competitive and at times it can be a ruthless industry. You’ve just to have your best foot forward at all times and you can’t really take anything for granted or take the easy option”
Like many sportsmen, the former Hutt Valley High School student has experienced the extreme highs and lows of football. Prior to signing his first professional contract, he tore his hamstring. The injury caused niggles throughout the 2015/16 A-League season but you won’t hear Gulley making excuses.
In fact, he looks back fondly at his time under Ernie Merrick.
“I had a great time there in a professional environment training every day. You can’t beat that. I learnt a lot about the hard work and sacrifice required (at that level) that I think will stay with me for a long time”
Now back to full fitness, Gulley is loving his football since re-joining Team Wellington. He enjoys the consistency of playing week-to-week. Despite his recent run of great form, the softly-spoken Gulley feels there is still plenty to work on.
“I’d obviously like to work on making my left foot a lot stronger and more comfortable to play on. Attacking wise, I would like to get more accurate crosses in. Defensively, I would also like to get tighter to the man to avoid getting beaten”
Consistent with his laid-back demeanor, Gulley loves every opportunity to “chill out” away from football. He enjoys spending time with his mates, watching films and T.V series. He admits his favourite film is Anchorman and he is an avid fan of the Vikings series. Surely, there is no better way to escape from the pressure of football!
As for the future, Gulley remains focused on re-establishing his professional career. He would love to have another crack at the A-League or may entertain other opportunities to play abroad.
Much like his unlikely strike against ‘the Weenix’, Gulley will simply take his luck as it comes and accept it as part of the rollercoaster ride that is top-level sport.