Injury has restricted him to just five A-League starts, two goals and no assists in a campaign where he was supposed to finally cement himself as a first-team player. A hamstring strain and then a hyperextended elbow forced him to miss a huge chunk of the season.
«That was my full intention — to come and be able to play every game in that starting 11,» he says. «The injuries put me back a bit, it was just a very interrupted season for me unfortunately.
If I just have one good solid season I can prove that — that I’m still that kid who got signed by Roma.
Daniel De Silva
«Whatever happens next year, I just hope that it won’t be the same and I’ll be more consistent and my body will stay strong.»
De Silva still shows flashes of genius every now and then. But every year that passes brings him dangerously closer to becoming a «never was», rather than what he could, or probably should, be — a starting Socceroo, playing regularly at a high level in Europe.
He still firmly believes he will be, one day soon. «I think I still can do that,» he said. «That’s what I wanted to do this season — to prove that. I’m still working hard every day, trying to become a better player. If I just have one good solid season I can prove that — that I’m still that kid who got signed by Roma.
«Hopefully I’ll live up to it and I’ll be able excite the crowd and do all those things that I was doing when I was that young. That’s when I am the happiest — just playing and having a good time.»
Where he plays next season remains to be seen, and the notoriously jumbled nature of his contract — one of the A-League’s great mysteries — makes that a tough question to answer.
«It’s so complicated. It’s basically like I’m on loan from Roma to the Mariners to here. To be honest it’s a quite difficult situation,» he says, with a return to Sydney a definite possibility if all parties can reach agreement. «But it’s not so black and white.»
For now, his focus is on Sunday’s A-League grand final, where he’ll have to be content with another appearance off the bench. Around 30 to 40 of his friends and family will be in the Optus Stadium stands to watch him play against the team he grew up supporting.
«Everyone’s buzzing. I’ve got loads of messages, ‘I can’t wait for you to come! Home final!’ To be able to go back there and play a grand final is very exciting,» De Silva said.
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.