In September, former A-League midfielder Chris Grossman called it a day as he left Melbourne City’s playing fields, carried off by teammates Chris Dib and Robert Santilli as Sunshine George Cross ran out 5-4 winners. Despite the hurdles Grossman had to jump, there is no doubt the 29-year-old left nothing in the dressing room when stepping out to play and was no stranger on the state and national stage.
Born in Brisbane, Grossman always had ambitions to be a professional footballer.
“I always trained by myself in the backyard and did extra sessions on weekends after games with my mates to make my dream possible,” the Queenslander said.
As a result of Grossman’s dedication and passion from a young age, he was recognised by being selected for regional and state teams. Nationally, Grossman also featured in the U20 team, where he co-captained the Young Socceroos along the way, netting three goals.
Prior to launching his A-League career, Grossman was involved at the AIS, where he played up against the best youth talent across the country in the now defunct NSL Youth League.
At the age of 18, Grossman made the decision to head back to Brisbane (Queenland) Roar alongside Socceroo Robbie Kruse, where they both received a training spot under then-coach Miron Bleiberg. Soon after the arrival of the pair, Frank Farina was appointed to replace the outgoing Bleiberg, and both Kruse and Grossman were then offered contracts to become full-time members of the Roar squad.
An injury to Marcus Wedau throughout the season opened the door for Grossman for a short period. However, after 15 games across three seasons, the former Brisbane Roar player opted for a move to the newly instated North Queensland Fury.
“It was a difficult decision to make moving away from home and my hometown club, but I wanted to play and test myself against the best in Australia. Initially it was difficult to break into the first team, missing the first three fixtures,” he said.
Despite this, Grossman would go onto play for two seasons, chalking up 52 games, netting five times for the Townsville-based side. In March 2011, the Fury’s license was terminated due to ongoing financial troubles. Grossman described this time as one of the biggest lows in his career.
“The Fury disbanding was the toughest and most difficult part of my life to date. My dream which I had worked so hard for was taken away.”
Looking back, Grossman believed he should have left the Fury earlier, however he wanted to remain loyal to the club which handed him such a first-team opportunity.
“Loyalty ultimately became the downfall to my professional football career.”
Post the fury disbandment, the former Young Socceroo headed for Melbourne in a last-ditch attempt to revive his professional football career, but only received short-term deals at Victorian Premier League clubs.
Grossman first arrived at Moreland Zebras, where he made 19 appearances for the black and whites, who were then relegated in the 2012 season. The former Zebra had another crack at A-League level as an injury replacement for Ben Kantarovski at Newcastle Jets, however he was unable to make an appearance for the Hunter club. On return to Melbourne, Grossman signed at Port Melbourne.
“I loved my time at Port Melbourne. The club, the people, the playing and coaching staff were great. It’s a club with massive ambition which achieved some amazing things the for the few years before I arrived, being promoted year after year and then into the NPL.”
Grossman scored five goals in 59 games for Port Melbourne, taking on a captaincy role during his time there. He had the support of a number of older players which assisted keeping the younger players grounded and focused on improving as footballers, such as current Melbourne Victory utility Stefan Nigro, which was vital in the Sharks’ success.
In 2016, Sunshine George Cross attained the services of the Queenslander.
“The move to Sunshine happened out of the blue, really. I started pre-season at Richmond and a few weeks before the start of the season wasn’t 100 percent certain it was the right place I could enjoy my last few years as a footballer.”
Grossman made a call to former Sunshine player Martin Mason, who invited the former to training to meet with coach Tony Ciantar.
A youthful squad, after the session Grossman asked Mason who the club’s older players were.
“This is it,” Mason replied.
As one of the few experienced heads in the squad, and with his mind set on coaching in the future, Grossman saw George Cross as the perfect environment to help the younger players at the club and enjoy what was to be his final season as a player. Sunshine finished second last after a tough opening start to the season, however finished strong.
“It was a tough year on the results front, but it was amazing to see the younger players grow game after game and by the end of the year become first team regulars, and I was able to make some great mates along the way,” he said.
Although Grossman didn’t reach the heights he set as a youth, he is “extremely proud of having played professionally and represented and captained my country at U20 level”.
He lists his most memorable moment as “coming off the bench to score my first professional goal against Wellington Phoenix in Wellington to equalise the game at 1-1.”
Grossman got married in October and has intentions of remaining in the game through coaching. He is about to complete his C Licence and will look into opportunities once finished, with a view of later obtaining a B Licence.
“Looking back on my career, I wished I had been given more advice and coaching to help me get to the next stage in my career. This is what I hope to be able to do in order to help the next generation on Australian footballers through,” Grossman said.
Australian football has lost a great and passionate player, a true professional on and off the pitch, but may just have gained a gentleman as a coach and mentor to bring through Australia’s next generation.