Buy This Issue
The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 09 September 2017
26 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER 2017 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM CON STAMOCOSTAS Konstandopoulos aims for FFA Cup goalscoring repeat Nathan Konstandopoulos’ stunning goal in Adelaide United’s FFA Cup win over Melbourne Victory has the youngster looking for a repeat performance against Heidelberg United on Wednesday night Konstandopoulos' goal - his first as a professional, helped the Reds to a 3-0 win over their arch rivals and put them into the FFA Cup quarterfinals. The strike was the culmination of a sweeping attacking move that saw the Red's midfielder receive the ball outside Victory's box and after taking a touch unleashed a right foot bomb that gave the keeper no chance. The result has many Adelaide fans believing they have turned a corner after a disappointing 2016-17 season which saw United finish last after winning the grand final the previous campaign. While the club has work to do in proving the doubters wrong this season the same can be said for Konstandopoulos who after three seasons in the A-League has found playing regular football on a consistent basis a challenge. But scoring a wonder goal like he did in last month's FFA Cup tie will certainly help the 21-year-old's cause. And Konstandopoulos told Neos Kosmos that scoring in such an emphatic fashion was the stuff of boyhood fantasies. "It was a fantastic experience to be playing in such a big game with such incredible players from both sides," says the Adelaide Olympic junior. "Obviously growing up in Adelaide the Melbourne Victory game was always the biggest game of the year. It always gets the big crowds and having that rivalry - to score was a dream come true. "I love getting the ball and having a crack outside the box. I think it's an attribute I need to work on as well, if I want to go to the next step, my goalscoring can definitely be improved upon. But I do enjoy having a shot from outside the box." Konstandopoulos was born and bred in Adelaide and both his parents were born in Australia with Greek heritage coming from his father's side. Nathan Konstandopoulos When he was just 15, the midfielder was playing first team football against men for Adelaide Olympic in the South Australian NPL. Around the same time Konstandopoulos spent a couple of months in Europe trialling with clubs in the English Championship and after impressing scouts the then teenager found himself with a big decision to make. "I decided I'd have a shot at playing overseas and I went on trial for a few months in England with clubs like West Bromwich Albion, Birmingham City and Bristol City," he says. "At that time Bristol City were in the championships and they were very keen on me but I hadn't finished my schooling and it all kind of got a bit difficult so I decided to come back here. I was going to go back but obviously that never eventuated. It's every kid's dream to play in Europe and that was an experience of a lifetime for me." A couple of years after his overseas sojourn, Konstandopoulos landed a spot with Adelaide United's youth team and towards the end of 2013-14 season the midfielder found himself making his A-League debut at just 17. Looking back on his first match as a professional footballer, Konstandopoulos admits there was some pre-game anxiety. "It was massive and I was pretty nervous," he recalled. "The coach was Josep Gombau and he got me to come up and train with the first team and there were a few injuries so I was lucky enough to get called up and was able to play against Wellington away. There were a lot of nerves but I was excited for the opportunity. I was grateful. I knew that the confidence that the coach had in me gave me confidence too. It was a big, big experience for me." However, Konstandopoulos found first team opportunities hard to come by and spent the next couple of seasons with Adelaide United's youth team. At the beginning of the 2016-17 campaign he moved to fellow A-League side Brisbane Roar where he featured in the Asian Champions League and ALeague campaigns. While regular game time did not eventuate he still valued the experience. "It allowed me to mature mentally and I developed my game and became a lot stronger physically," Konstandopoulos says. "Obviously coach John Aloisi and assistant coach Ross Aloisi are both legends in Australian football. They taught me a lot of things regarding the defensive side of my game. “I also learnt from players like Matt McKay and Thomas Broich. It was a big learning curve for me and something I will treasure for the rest of my career. It has enabled me now to make the next step forward." After only one year at Brisbane Konstandopoulos returned to his hometown of Adelaide. With that stunning goal for the Reds in the FFA Cup win against Victory, his decision to come home seems to have paid off. This coming Wednesday sees Adelaide United play Heidelberg in the FFA Cup quarterfinal and the 21-year-old is hoping to continue his goal scoring form. "I would love to get on the scoresheet," he says. "But in the same breath I would just like to do my job for the team and if that means scoring a goal then of course I am going to do that. “It means defensively I have to hold my own too and just keep playing well and keep being confident. I am very lucky in that I have some great players around me as well. The goal now is to just keep progressing on that performance against Melbourne Victory." Since making his debut in 2013-14, Konstandopoulos, has played only six professional games. This is an experience he shares with many young players in the top level in Australia. This situation was highlighted in last month’s Player Pathway Study released by Professional Footballers Australia (PFA). It showed that professional match minutes played by male under 20 players have more than halved since 2011/12 and over 30 per cent of male players regarded good enough to play a professional match before the age of 21 do not play another professional match minute after the age of 23. But Konstandopoulos is hoping not to become just another statistic and instead make this season his breakthrough campaign. "My goal is definitely to play consistently in the A- League," he says. "I really want to establish myself and to have a great year where I can get a lot of games under my belt. I feel like I'm ready and I have the potential. If I get the chance I am definitely going to take it with both hands and make sure that if someone has to replace me they will fight for the position. "Mentally I have matured a lot over the last couple of years. All the trials and tribulations have made me a stronger person. I work hard and I believe if you do all the one percenters outside the pitch it'll come. So, I am just going to keep working hard each and every day at each training session and see where my journey takes me."
02 September 2017
16 September 2017