ANYONE who has ever loved and lost will understand how Cole Peverley feels.
Only last year the midfielder was in soccer heaven.
The Napier City Rovers player had a four-year professional contract with Charleston Battery in the American Major Soccer League (MLS) in South Carolina.
"I had the money I wanted. I had the life and Charleston, in South Carolina, has seven beaches," the 24-year-old said yesterday before the Rovers' must-win Lotto Central League game against Wellington Olympic in Napier tomorrow from 2pm.
Unable to stay more than three months with the Seattle Sounders FC, who flatmate and fellow Rovers striker Jarrod Smith played for, because of their "foreigners' rule" the MLS club released Peverley to the Battery.
The former Olympian, who was the 24th man on the World Cup roster that year before he was dropped, broke his ankle - for the third time in the same spot - and it took him five weeks to get back into Charleston's season.
"At the end of the season they signed up another American boy. I was a foreigner so they released me. That's football. It can be a very cruel sport," said Auckland-born Peverley who toiled tirelessly for five months at Park Island, Napier, while plying his trade for Kinetic Electrical Hawke's Bay United in the 2010-11 summer during the ASB Premiership.
"I was heartbroken. It's like when a girl breaks up with you.
"I haven't hit rock bottom or in danger of going out of control or anything like that."
It's fair to say Peverley is still in limbo in the beautiful game.
He doesn't want to be caught on the rebound but the passion and desire to find another professional team is there.
He still yearns to slip on the All Whites shirt "and that will never change".
Not wanting to sound disrespectful, Peverley feels the MLS standard is better than what the A-League offers here but he hopes to get back on the MLS or A-League bandwagon provided he plays this summer.
For now it's "doing his head in" moving around.
Last summer Canterbury United flew Peverley from Wellington, where he was based with his partner, to the premiership matches.
An employee of Ole Academy in the capital city, he helped coach teenagers in the hope of winning scholarships to the US.
His heart is set on settling with his partner in Napier, where he's enjoying his footy, the Rovers club culture and the conviviality of people here.
"I'm playing well and I'm fit, but I'm not chasing anything."
Summer premiership franchises, including Bay United coach Chris Greatholder, have approached him but Peverley hasn't signed anything yet.
"I've been having talks with Chrissy Greatholder but we haven't finalised anything so I'm just loving the province and enjoying myself," he said.
The Rovers are sitting in third place on the ladder on 33 points three behind the Mick Waitt-coached Olympic but the Napier side have three games in hand and the Greeks are playing their last game, which means the visitors can't win the league this winter.
The hosts play leaders Wairarapa (37 points) next weekend and Miramar Rangers last but with home advantage at Bluewater Stadium.
The Rovers lost 1-0 away to Olympic in the first round after their keeper saved Smith's penalty kick.
Coach Grant Hastings said Fergus Neil and Reiner Bauerfeind would return from illness and so would Smith, after serving a two-match suspension.
Peverley said Napier could draw with Rangers to secure the title but the attitude in the camp was to win everything.
"We believe we can and it's just another game," he said, adding their away loss to Olympic was due to a shocking pitch although it wasn't an excuse.