Tuesday, September 27, 2011
In the second of our Generation Who series, I chat to young Australian Josip Konyit, currently plying his trade with Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb. First published @ GGArmy Sep 14 Link
GGA: Hi Josip, can you give us a brief synopsis of the previous season? How many games did you play, how did the side go?
JK: It was a good season, I'm really happy with my dedication off and on the pitch which has resulted in many great opportunities. The first half of the season I rarely played however in the second half of the season I've really improved, becoming more consistent and playing solidly.
I’ve been playing in more of a full back role and at times stopper. I had a slight injury at the start of the winter break with minor ligament damage to my left ankle, however, I recovered really quickly thanks to the medical staff at the club.
I've been really fortunate as many opportunities have been presented, such as interest from a few Bundesliga clubs, and also to attend the Australian football camp held in Germany. That was not only a great honour but also a privilege to represent the country and I'm hoping to hear from the FFA in the future.
Most of the Australian football public first saw your name in the squad for the Australian national team’s training camp that was held in Duisburg, Germany at the beginning of this year. Was that the first time anyone from the FFA has been in contact and what where your impressions of your team mates and the coaching staff?
Yeah that was the first time the FFA were in contact with me and it was not only surprising but also overwhelming. The boys in the squad were fantastic, a great bunch of lads, everyone was really supportive and it was a great atmosphere on and off the pitch.The coaching staff were also unbelievable, really supportive, positive and personally provided me with great advice.
Can you give us some background on yourself? How did you get to Dinamo Zagreb? It must have been a dream come true when you first signed having a Croatian background?
I’m from Melbourne's western suburbs and starting playing football for St Albans Saints Dinamo at the age of 7, then I left St Albans for Melbourne Knights FC from the ages of the 13-15. From there I made the Victorian under 15's state team, moved to Altona Magic Seniors and then transferred to Melbourne Knights seniors.
I was loaned out from Melbourne Knights to Diamond Valley Seniors which assisted in my transition as a senior footballer. The journey was really surprising to Dinamo Zagreb, I attended the Dinamo Academy held in Melbourne and they were interested and invited to Croatia. In Zagreb I attended a tournament on the Croatian coast, performed well and I’ve been here since 2009.
Dinamo Zagreb was my childhood club, which my Grandfather and Uncle had a major influence over. It sure was a dream come to, there's no words to explain the passion I have for the club.
Who have been the most important influences in your football education?
Both my Mother and Father, who were very supportive even till this day and I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for them. Also my Dida who inspired me and my Ujo who has helped me with life on and off the pitch. Also a major influence was and still is Arthur Papas who has been not only a great role model but guided me, educated me, assistedwith my football career.
Looking at the Dinamo Zagreb youth squad, you are the only Aussie in the squad. How did you get used to the professorial environment in Croatia and what were the differences between what you faced in Australia?
Adapting to the lifestyle was very enjoyable; Croatia is a very cultured nation who pride themselves on respect and the respect of others, and this is also shown on the pitch. Physically playing at an Australian level was a lot more demanding, however, football in Croatia is technically advanced as well as tactically.
What do you hope to achieve in your football career?
I would love to the play at the highest level in Italy, or in the German Bundesliga. Also becoming a regular member of the Australian National team. Furthermore I would love to finish my career playing for Dinamo Zagreb.
There are a lot of young players like yourself that are going straight to Europe and bypassing the A-League. Can you tell us if any A-League teams approached you?
I was approached by Melbourne Heart a year ago. The team looked very exciting with the likes of Josip Skoko and Michael Beauchamp.
What are your thoughts on the A-League?
I really haven’t watched many games however it seems to be growing stronger and stronger which is really exciting and hopefully it provides many young Australian footballers with as many opportunities as possible
What conditions in Australia can be improved upon when it comes to coaching and training young players in Australia?
I believe technical and tactical development should be trained at a young level, assisting players in their understanding of the game and improving their confidence on the ball.
Players like Mathew Spiranovic have been courted by the Croatian FA to play for them in the past. Have you been approached?
I have had talks with a national selector but nothing solid. I am very proud of my Croatian heritage, however I am not only proud to represent Australia but honoured to represent the country where I was brought up in which also gave my family many great opportunities.