A personal mission is set to be the driving force motivating APIA Leichhardt Tiger’s star striker Chris Payne to carry his side to grand final glory.
The veteran front-man has been scoring goals for fun this campaign but revealed the struggle of his son Cayde, who suffers from Spina bifida, has been the inspiration behind his on field heroics.
The former North Queensland Fury and Newcastle Jets striker explained how his son loves to watch him play and enjoys nothing more than seeing his dad find the back of the net.
Ahead of the National Premier Leagues NSW grand final, Payne told Football NSW that he would love nothing more than seeing the joy on Cayde’s face when he lifts the championship trophy with a win on Saturday.
“We’ve been in and out of hospital with Cayde a number of times for surgery so it has been a tough time for the family,” Payne said.
“He comes to a lot of the games and is always smiling which keeps me going as well.
“My family mean everything to me and I owe so much to my wife for everything she does. If it wasn’t for her I don’t think I would still be playing football.
“Obviously their motivation will again play a big part and I hope I can do them proud by helping APIA lift the championship.”
The front-man, who joined APIA at the start of the season after an acrimonious exit from Sydney United 58, said he has loved his time at Lambert park and is determined to help the club win the championship title which has eluded them.
He admitted the unfortunate nature of his United exit will be in the back of his mind when he faces off against his former side at Bankwest Stadium.
“I had a few successful years with Sydney United and really enjoyed my time at the club but they felt they didn’t need me any more after last season. The club didn’t even contact me to tell me I wasn’t going to be re-signed. One of my teammates had to break the news to me,” he said.
“That sort of thing really leaves a sour taste in your mouth but it did give me the chance to join APIA who have been an incredible club to be a part of.
“I have been fortunate to find a new home at APIA and helping this team win the title is my main priority. However, the fact that we need to beat Sydney United will make it a little bit sweeter for me if we are to win.”
Payne had one of his best performances of the season in APIA’s 3-1 win against Sydney United in Round 4 when he scored a brilliant hat-trick in his first return to Edensor Park since joining APIA.
The 28-year-old is determined for a repeat of that performance at Bankwest stadium on Saturday.
“Playing in a grand final is always exciting and that is no different this time around,” Payne
“I’m feel really good heading into this match and can’t wait to walk out onto the pitch with my kids at the start of the game.
“I’ve scored some really important goals for the team this season and I’m confident I can continue to score big goals for the team.”
“It should be a great night for APIA and hopefully we can come home with the grand final victory this club has been waiting for.”