Perth (Australia) (AFP) – Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo, who recently revealed he was gay, received little fanfare Saturday in contrast to ex-Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge whose Perth Glory debut ended with a 1-1 draw in Australia’s A-League.
In front of a sold out HBF Park in Perth, the hostile local fans were nondescript towards Cavallo as the Glory clawed back to share the spoils with their prized recruit getting a brief run in his much-hyped debut.
Sturridge, who hadn’t played a professional match in almost 21 months and only emerged from mandatory two-week hotel quarantine 10 days ago, started on the bench and received loud applause every time he was shown on the ground’s big screen.
He finally made his much-anticipated appearance in the 85th minute.
“It felt great…the game was close, unfortunately we didn’t get the win,” Sturridge said.
“It’s not easy going from being in a room to playing professional games. It will take time.”
Amid the cauldron, Cavallo was a defensive force for Adelaide who started well before fading in warm conditions.
The 22-year-old Australia Under-20 international last month came out as the only openly gay men’s footballer in a top-flight league.
His decision to go public won plaudits throughout the footballing world and beyond, with Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic tweeting: “You are a champion. Football is for everyone. Big respect.”
Cavallo received his first touch in the second minute, which prompted little response – bar several handclaps in the terraces – from the 17,000 pro-Glory crowd.
The left-back was involved in the thick of the action and almost helped the visitors take the early lead when his gorgeous free-kick found Stefan Mauk whose header went awry.
Adelaide’s domination was rewarded in the 22nd minute through striker Kusini Yengi only for Glory star Bruno Fornaroli to equalise with a blistering long-range strike before half-time.
Buoyed by an increasingly rowdy late night crowd, an aggressive Glory thought they had the advantage through Antonee Burke-Gilroy early in the second half only for the goal to be disallowed.
Restless fans, many of whom were attired in Liverpool’s famous red kit, demanded Sturridge be subbed into the game and their wish was granted in the 85th minute.
Sturridge, who played for England at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, received a standing ovation from much of the faithful but couldn’t weave any late heroics.
The Glory will hit the road for the remainder of the calendar year due to Western Australia’s stringent border controls amid the pandemic.
Adelaide United will play their home opener against Melbourne City on November 27.
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