Thursday, March 31, 2011

Socceroo Next Mathew Leckie Interview

Here's an interview with upcoming Australian football star Mathew Leckie that featured in Aussie football mag Soccer International a few months back.

Mathew talks Adelaide United, Young Socceroos and his Senior Socceroos ambitions.

On his way to a club in Germany but not yet confirmed Mathew Leckie can be glad he is not left footed which leaves him free to find his own destiny, free from being called the next Harry Kewell (poor Tommy Oar, Dylan Tombides and James Troisi)

Aussie fans are really looking forward to the Youth World Cup which will be played in Columbia and commence on July 29 were hopefully Mr Leckie and his young Socceroo teammates can put on a good show. The A-League is on a break for seven years and the local football football fraternity will be having major withdrawals by then.

I'm sure the last thing on your mind is talking about the injury but what is the latest news and how are you feeling?
The latest is I’ve still got my knee brace on. I’ve got that on for two and bit more weeks, and I’ve got some flexion in my leg which is promising and I’m hoping to be out on the track running in a matter of four weeks, and then it’s just a matter of how long it takes to get back into full training and full fitness.

 Tell us about your experiences in your first season as a professional footballer you were signed by ex reds coach Aurelio Vidmar from Bulleen Lions how was the step up for you?
At first the step up was tough. In my first training session I was up against Fabian Barbiero, we were playing a little small sided game and I was thinking to myself, ‘there’s no way I’m going to be able to play at this level’ because of how quick it felt and how quickly I was getting tired. So at first it was really hard but then slowly you just get used to it and just adapt.

 Growing up how did you find football and who were your biggest influences in your career so far? 
I think football was the best thing I’d ever done after I started playing. I started playing when I was 11 so it was quite late. The reason I started playing football was that people in my primary school just told me to play, we played at lunch time and they said come down to the club, and then I just went from there. So it ended up being a good decision and now football is a serious thing in my life.

Before I became professional my biggest influence was my dad, he was always the one that would take me to the games and all of that stuff, and then after that it would probably be my agent John Grimaud. He picked me up in a summer league and it all kind of happened from then. He spoke to Adelaide , he spoke to some other A-League clubs and then Adelaide signed me.

Last season Adelaide United came last in the A-League but the end of your season and the Asian Champions League tournament showed that the team had found some form tell us about your experience:
Obviously we had a bad season last year but I think it helped me in a way because it gave me the opportunity for Viddie to give me a game and I took that opportunity, and I guess that’s how I started playing regularly in the first eleven. Then in the Asian Champions League I just think that Viddie knew what he was going to come up against and structurally we had a good setup and I think that’s why we did so well.

Tell us about your Socceroo ambitions. Pim Verbeek named you in the 25 man Socceroos squad for the AFC Asian Cup 2011 Qualifier against Indonesia in March this year. I know footballers take it a day at a time but is the Asian cup call up in the back of your mind somewhere?
At this stage now I’m injured I don’t think it’s going to happen. I think for me to come back, the amount of time for me to come back and play and perform is too short for the national team coach to pick me. Obviously it’s disappointing but now I’ve just got to move and try to get my knee as strong as ever and come back and play the rest of the season out with Adelaide and hopefully perform well.

  Many football writers and pundits claim this is the best under 20 side since the teams of the 91 and 93 era. With yourself, Tommy Oar and Kerem Bulut would be pushing some of the Senior Socceroos what's it like playing with them?
I don’t know about those last two teams that competed for the Under 20s but yeah I think we have a strong team. We have a couple of players like Tommy Oar and Ben Kantarovski who played in the last Under 20s, so it shows that they’re good enough to play at a high level with the older players. So now they’ve stepped down we’ve got them as well and as for Tommy, Kerem and myself up front, I think it’s really good. Tommy and I attack down the wings and Bulut, as he has showed, scores goals. He scored seven in six games so credit to him and hopefully he continues doing well.

 Can you give us an insight into the Coach Jan Versleijen methods. He used a very attacking line up in the final with Amini, Kantarovski and  Antonis feeding the front three of yourself Tommy Oar and Kerem Bulut upfront. It certainly makes for an exciting front third and combination play. It looked exciting to watch tell us what it was like to play?
I think Jan has always looked at it in an attacking sense. He loves to play in the 4-3-3 formation so I think it’s good. You always want to go out there and attack, especially as an attacking player. Playing that style, in the Final it was quite frustrating because Korea sat the whole team behind the ball, but I guess that’s where you’ve got to find solutions, try to break the team down and create chances.

 The tournaments biggest game is the quarterfinal which is the qualification for the World Cup tell us how you dealt with the tournament conditions and how you the coach motivated and prepared you for each big game?
We always knew we had to win the first game against Yemen , they were probably the weakest team in the group so we knew we had to come away with a win there. Iraq were probably the second strongest and if we could beat them we were almost through already, so we did that and then we came up against South Korea and got a draw. Then we came up against UAE, we knew it was going to be tough, you never know what to expect from them and they had a striker who played at the last Under 20s and was top goal scorer so we knew he was going to be dangerous, but we always knew we would run over the top of them with our fitness and I think it showed when we beat them in extra time. Jan made little changes in preparing for each game but I wouldn’t say major ones. He just told us that we were better than all of these teams, it’s just a matter of playing good football, the way we play and keeping control of the ball and control of the match.

 One of your young Socceroo teammates Tommy Oar made the move to Holland what are your overseas ambitions? Got a dream club and given a choice which club would love to play for?
I want to go overseas at some stage, hopefully it will come one day. And a dream club that I’d love to play for…probably Manchester United.

What skill do you work on the most? What skill do you need to work on the most
There is not one skill I work on more than others. I like to do shooting drills with Sergio (van Dijk) after training but overall I just do what the group does at training, which has really good. And skill I need to work on most…probably my first touch.

The Reds are top this season tell us what is different to this season and how much of an effect has the new coach Rini Coolen had on this success?
I think Rini has had a big part in it, but I also think it is down to a lot of other things as well. I think last year we had Reidy who was out for most of the year, he’s a strong part of our midfield. I think Hughesy is playing a lot better than what he was last year and I also think the additions of Sergio and Marcos ( Flores ) (pictured right) have been a big part of our improvement this year. They’re four key players in our attack and midfield, and our defence is also solid and not chopping and changing that much. But I think Rini has done a great job. We had Phil Stubbins for two months of pre season and he did a great job with us, got us all fit and ready, and then Rini came in and credit to him, he came into a team he knew nothing about and he’s done well. I think the whole coaching staff with Rini, Phil, Carl (Veart) and Peter (Blazincic), they all work hard together and it shows.

Tell us what it's like playing for the Reds? Rain hail or shine or even when you were coming last during season five they still offer passionate support?
It has been great. Last year we had a bad year, but it still showed how much the Adelaide fans love the club, whether we were last or first, we still had good crowds last year. We thank all of our supporters for sticking by us and it’s also great to see how many Adelaide United supporters have been showing up at our away games, it really helps the boys when we’ve got some of the crowd on our side.  

 Many are saying this season A League is the best ever? What do you think?
I can’t really answer that because except for this year, last year and a little bit of the year before, I hadn’t watched any of the A-League so I didn’t know too much about it. But I think it’s at a high standard and is only going to get better as the years go on because they’re starting to bring in big name players to promote the game and there is also some great young talent coming up. Even having coaches from overseas like the Dutch ones in the league now makes the game better.

What is the craziest thing you have seen on a football field?
I was watching a game on TV the other day, I can’t remember the teams that were playing but it was a final and the keeper has come out and let the ball go through his legs because he thought it was going to go out, and then the striker kept it in. I was just laughing thinking what was the keeper doing, and then with an open goal, the striker has kicked it straight into the post, and then his team ended up losing in extra time, so that was pretty crazy.

Mathew Leckie Favourites:

Movie: The Hurricane
Music: Top 40
actor: Denzel Washington
actress: Jennifer Aniston
Food: Pasta
Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Overseas Team: Manchester United
Teammate: Daniel Mullen

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