‘That’s not football’
I want to enjoy a lot of things in life. When Western United offered me a two-year deal, I spoke to my fiancée and we decided to come to Australia and live this experience.
I like to travel, I’m interested in seeing new places and I knew I would never have this opportunity to come to Australia to live again. I had lived in Italy for seven years, I played with great players and great teams but I thought it was time for something different in my career.
I was the first signing of the club – I will remain in history! It was a big risk for me to sign but I came in March to see the club and speak with the people running it. I saw the project they were planning, and it appealed to me, so I decided to sign.
I make jokes to my teammates because they speak ‘the Aussie way’. It’s fun. It’s something new and I like to learn new cultures, new things.
Sometimes it gets confusing because I speak five languages – Greek, Albanian, French, Italian, English – and I have them all in my head; sometimes I will be thinking in Italian and speak in English, and vice versa. It’s difficult.
‘It makes me sad’
What has made me sad in Australia is that so many people say nobody likes football. This is a pity because to me it is a very beautiful sport.
For me, it was really sad to go to Brisbane – such a beautiful city, such a beautiful stadium, beautiful weather, good team, and we see only seven or eight thousand people there. It makes me sad.
The style of football here is something different. The players, they are running, running, running, up and down, up and down. For me, this is not football. Yes, you have to run, but you need to think about the tempo and the momentum of a game.
Good defence, proper attack. This is my opinion. Only a few teams play beautiful football, European football. Sydney FC is one, Melbourne City, who have also a very good coach, and Perth, they have a similar system to us with three defenders. But this is Australian soccer and we must also understand that.
At Western United we have some experienced players like myself, Alessandro Diamanti, Besart Berisha and Andrew Durante. We want to play intelligent football. Mark Rudan is a very good coach who understands this.
We are working a lot and focusing on good quality, and not ‘run, run, run’, which is a little bit different from the classic Australian teams. We are more like a European team.
‘We have confused players’
In Australia there are many good young players, but how many have left to play in Europe? Not many. They don’t question themselves.
The Australian coaches, they don’t question themselves, ‘Why are our players not playing in good championships?’ We have confused them a bit. There are very good players here – very good players – but football is not just about running and being physical and speed. It is lots of other things.
It’s not about talent. The talent is here. I have seen. A lot of young players in other teams. Defenders, attacking players. There are players with big talent and big futures, but I don’t know what’s stopping them playing in Europe. What’s the problem?
I think maybe one of the problems is the style of their play. More energy, a lot of fast action, not possession of the ball too much. My experience tells me that.
Beautiful young A-League players
I like Keanu Baccus, the midfielder from Western Sydney. He’s fast, he has technique, he defends and attacks well in both phases and I think he has a good future.
I also like Riley McGree from Adelaide. He takes good positions in the field, he has good control and he scores goals.
There are others, too, who are beautiful players. The A-League has a lot of players who can make something good of their career in Europe.
‘Making players for Europe’
Me, Diamanti, Berisha and Durante, we have seen a lot of progress form the young kids from July to now. I think we are influencing the younger players on our team. They have impressed me.
There is Dylan Pierias – he’s very fast, good with the ball and improving a lot. Valentino Yuel, he’s a good striker. Sebastian Pasquali has had problems with injury but he’s a good tactical player, good touches with the ball. He was at Ajax and I think he improved a lot there.
Jerry Skotadis was a big surprise for me. He played against Victory and did very well, then the second game against Brisbane he stayed on the same level. That was very encouraging. He is very mature and disciplined.
I hope that in two, three years, Western United are making players for Europe. This must be the target in the Australian league – not to play in Australia with seven or eight thousand people at the stadium.