At The End Of The Day

The hard­man of Ade­laide United’s back­line in the A-League and Asia, MICHAEL VALKA­NIS has no re­grets

Australian Four Four Two - - CONTENTS - Michael Valka­nis

I knew I made it as a player when I de­buted for Irak­lis against PAOK in front of 40,000 fans. I re­alised how much work I had to do to play at that high level. As a young­ster, I saw PAOK come to Mel­bourne, I was at the can­teen, then I saw these pro­fes­sion­als come off a bus with the same bags and jack­ets and from that day on­wards, I knew that I wanted to play over­seas in Greece.

I was hap­pi­est when I was play­ing with Ade­laide United. I was so lucky and I’m so grate­ful I was there at the be­gin­ning and to be an in­au­gu­ral player at the end of the NSL. Ev­ery­one who was part of the club that year made some­thing spe­cial hap­pen, just to see how the club has grown, to be the first club to rep­re­sent Aus­tralia in the Asian Cham­pi­ons League and the fi­nal. We might not have won Grand Fi­nals, but we were there. Many thought the lit­tle town wasn’t go­ing to be com­pet­i­tive, but we did well.

My hero growing up was Kenny Dal­glish. I was a mad Liver­pool sup­porter. They played the foot­ball that prob­a­bly in­flu­enced the way I see the game to­day. They were play­ing a real group pos­ses­sion game and were one of the best teams in Europe.

The fun­ni­est thing was when I was play­ing for South Mel­bourne against Mor­well. Kevin Mus­cat drib­bled down the line from full-back, cut the ball back and I scored my first goal. We cel­e­brated at the crowd. We didn’t re­alise the goal had been dis­al­lowed and the crowd was ac­tu­ally point­ing at us to run back. I won’t for­get it. The day foot­ball broke my heart was when I did my ACL as I was com­ing to the end of my ca­reer. I was 34, I might not have been able to come back be­cause of my age. Credit to the club who be­lieved in me and gave me another year, I was able to play 50 per

cent of that sea­son and a Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nal.

My proud­est mo­ment was rep­re­sent­ing the Soc­ceroos against Kuwait. I de­buted with Travis Dodd and he scored. It was a great night be­cause there were a lot of A-League play­ers and peo­ple were con­cerned whether we could get the re­sult, but we won 2-0. Lin­ing up hear­ing the na­tional an­them and think­ing, ‘I’m play­ing for my coun­try’. It was a boy­hood dream come true.

If I could change one thing I would cel­e­brate fin­ish­ing first. I’m not a big fan of how it isn’t cel­e­brated as much as win­ning a Grand Fi­nal in Aus­tralia. I un­der­stand the fi­nals sys­tem and I like the ex­cite­ment, but I think win­ning the Premier­ship is the most im­por­tant.

If it wasn’t for foot­ball maybe I would’ve be­come a bio­chemist. Be­ing Greek, I was ex­pected to be a doc­tor or lawyer. I was good at school and I got good grades. I got an op­por­tu­nity to break into se­nior pro­fes­sional foot­ball, so know­ing I could make a ca­reer out of it, my mind­set changed. I still went to univer­sity and stud­ied bio­chem­istry, so maybe that could’ve been a ca­reer.

Three words that sum me up Risk­taker, hard-worker and a dreamer.

If you could have one wish I don’t think I can wish, I’ve got a beau­ti­ful wife, beau­ti­ful kids, fan­tas­tic par­ents and a great job. I think some­times, when you wish, it sug­gests re­gret.

Right now I’m achiev­ing a dream. In these last three months, an op­por­tu­nity has come up with Ere­di­visie side PEC Zwolle and to be re­united with John van’t Schip. I thought it would’ve been im­pos­si­ble be­cause an Aus­tralian coach go­ing to Europe is dif­fi­cult and Hol­land is a big com­pe­ti­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.