Brisbane’s Big Mac

Ital­ian marks­man Mas­simo Maccarone is age­ing like a fine wine and is ready to prove the crit­ics wrong.

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS - Words John David­son

Roar’s Michael Maccarone

The head­lines are al­ready writ­ten… Dad’s Army – too old, too slow, past their best. It’s true Brisbane Roar have a squad with plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence, plenty of kilo­me­tres in their legs for when the new A-League cam­paign kicks off. Nine of Brisbane’s squad are on the wrong side of 32. Five of them are 34 or older. It might just be the old­est ros­ter in A-League his­tory. Mas­simo Maccarone is the poster gramps of them all, as a former Ital­ian in­ter­na­tional who spent nearly two decades star­ring in Serie A and the English Pre­mier League. At 38, the striker still scored seven times and picked up two as­sists in 29 matches in Italy’s top flight last sea­son. Maccarone is adamant age is just a num­ber and he will do the busi­ness in the A-League. “I’ve come here to score goals,” he says. “I know now I am 38, I can’t do the same things when I was 25 or 30. But my fit­ness is OK be­cause I’ve been very lucky in my ca­reer not to get many in­juries. I think I can play. In the past 10-15 days, I’ve played three games of 90 min­utes and I’ve had no prob­lems.” Scor­ing goals and prov­ing peo­ple wrong is what Maccarone has been do­ing for al­most 20 years. In 279 ca­reer ap­pear­ances in Serie A, the for­ward bagged 79 goals and 27 as­sists. He has banged in nine goals in 18 games in Euro­pean com­pe­ti­tions, along with 18 in 81 Pre­mier League matches. In terms of dura­bil­ity and con­sis­tency over time, Maccarone has few equals. The tar­get man’s ca­reer started in AC Mi­lan’s academy way back in 1996. He has never been afraid of a challenge or of back­ing his abil­ity, go­ing out on loan six dif­fer­ent times to gain ga­me­time. He’s also tasted life in England, spend­ing five roller­coaster sea­sons at Mid­dles­brough from 2002 to 2007. There, he had many Aus­tralian team­mates, in­clud­ing Mark Sch­warzer, Mark Viduka, Tony Vid­mar and Luke Wilk­shire. But it was an­other two Socceroos dur­ing his first stint at Em­poli who be­came close friends and con­vinced him of the ap­peal of a move Down Un­der. “I’ve played with many Aus­tralian peo­ple,” he says. “I have good friends in Marco Bres­ciano and Vince Grella. I spoke with Grella about that at Em­poli and he came to find me a team. “I told him two years ago, ‘Next year I want a new ex­pe­ri­ence in Aus­tralia’ and he said let me know when you are ready. This sum­mer we spoke about that and I came here. I’ve never been to Aus­tralia and it’s a vey good coun­try.” Out­spo­ken, ver­sa­tile, ta­lented, skillful, Maccarone will bring plenty to Roar as a player un­afraid to speak his mind, and who can play in a num­ber of at­tack­ing po­si­tions, both as goalscorer and goal-provider. Nick­named ‘Big Mac’, the striker has played with and against some of the finest in the world, rep­re­sent­ing the Az­zurri twice and a fan favourite at many of his clubs. Life won’t be dull with Maccarone around. He hopes his ex­pe­ri­ence can ben­e­fit Roar young­sters like Nicholas D’Agostino, Shan­non Brady and Corey Gameiro: “When I was younger, I al­ways looked to the older play­ers to learn. Now that I’m older, I hope the younger play­ers will look to me so how I can help them.” But the im­me­di­ate goal is sil­ver­ware. While Maccarone won the Foot­ball League Cup and reached the 2006 UEFA Cup fi­nal with Boro, he has never won a Premier­ship in his long ca­reer. The vet­eran will be an­gling to break that record dur­ing his time at Sun­corp Sta­dium. “We have a good team,” he says. “Now we have many in­jured play­ers but when they’re fit we’ll have a good team and we have some good younger play­ers as well. The tar­get is to win the Cham­pi­onship be­cause Brisbane with its his­tory in the last six years it’s won it three times. We’ll try to do our best.”

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