My Best Mate’s A Football Star
Jack Duncan and Rick de Boer
RICK: Nobody our age  had ever gone from the top. The hill was a bit gnarly, you’d say, and had a 90 degree turn on it. JACK: I thought I could handle it. RICK: And I just kind of talked him into it. You know, just being that friend, trying to push him to better himself [laughs]. I like to think I pushed him into the whole skating and surfing thing back in the day. JACK: I knew pretty early on it wasn’t going to end well but it was too late to back out. RICK: He kind of made the turn and then faded in the last minute and came off to the side of the road. JACK: I hit the kerb, landed on some rocks and this, like, cut-off street sign. It was a pretty bad area to land. JACK: [ Back home] I fainted twice. My parents rushed me up to the hospital where I had an emergency blood transfusion because I had massive internal bleeding. If I had managed to
get to sleep that night I would have passed away. I was in intensive care for 12 days. I lost the top one-third of my right kidney but what’s left still functions pretty well.
Rick was at the hospital the next day... JACK: He was absolutely devastated. Both of us were young and trying to make it as soccer players. I missed most of that season in U12s and when I started back I was wearing a protective brace. Growing up we were always pushing each other to do stupid things.
When did the friendship start?
RICK: Through the local Oztag. Then we made the same football team about a year later for Sutherland Juniors. We, and another person, were the only under age kids so that made a strong bond. Jack was the goalkeeper, I played anywhere from centre-back to wingback.
So you had that defensive relationship as well?
RICK: Exactly. That’s what forged such a great friendship and it gave us plenty to talk about after the game. We would rate each other’s performances. We knew each other’s game inside and out.
Were you hard markers?
BOTH: Yeah. JACK: Especially when you scored an own goal against me. RICK: Yeah, I had a blinder of season back when I was about 13 – the first three games I probably scored every goal. So that didn’t help much. To be fair, Jack’s punched the ball into his own net [Jets v Adelaide, December 2016]. JACK: Thanks for that…!
Did you have aspirations in football, Rick?
RICK: Doesn’t every young boy? But I think when push comes to shove I just didn’t cut it. I probably stopped playing representative-wise at 18,19.
RICK: He always had that ambition and drive in his life. Ever since he was a little boy he just always wanted to do that. He knew where he was going even when other people didn’t have the faith in him.
Do you two talk about what happens on the pitch?
RICK: He’s quite humble when he talks about soccer. He doesn’t give too much away. I think it’s a different story when you get to see him and his dad together, they’ll really break down a whole season. JACK: Rick keeps me kind of grounded in life away from football. [The game] takes up such a big part of my life and most of the friends I have on a day-to-day basis I play with, or are part of the Jets, so it’s nice to have that balance with Rick as well as my girlfriend Anea.
So chilling out these days means?
JACK: He lives in Sydney so it’s a bit easier to catch up in the off-season, get out on the water and have a surf, play some pool... RICK: A couple of beers… I usually have a few plans in my head and then he reminds me he’s a professional athlete. And I respect that. It doesn’t get too radical anymore.
But when he hangs up the boots?
JACK: We just spoke about it the other day. RICK: Snowboarding. JACK: We’ve both never been to the snow. We’ve done everything else you can do on a board so I think snowboarding is the last one to tick.
You realise that could be 15 years down the track?
Jack Duncan and Rick de Boer