Sport

Nathan Coe on pro soccer in Australia and keeping against the world's best strikers. By Richard Cooke.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Road to Victory: Nathan Coe, 30, goalkeeper

A former Socceroo, Nathan Coe is currently goalkeeper for Melbourne Victory. A veteran of European football who has played for Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven, he signed with the A-League club in 2012, completing a transfer from Danish side SønderjyskE.

Richard Cooke The difference between the A-League and the old NSL is more stark every year. After playing in the former system, did you ever think that Australian club sides would end up with crowds above 40,000?

Nathan Coe No, it’s a massive difference. I was overseas when the NSL broke up and it was a tough time for football in Australia because there was no professional competition at all. Ten years ago there was absolutely nothing, and now we’re bringing superstars like David Villa and [Alessandro] Del Piero. This is a massive, massive step. When I was young I wouldn’t have imagined being able to play in a highly competitive and professional league in Australia.

RC What’s it like keeping against players of that calibre?

NC Something every footballer wants to do is play against professional players. It really tests you as a person and as a player.

RC Who’s the best striker you’ve kept against?

NC I don’t really know, to be honest. When I was involved with the Brisbane Strikers we played a warm-up game against the Brazilian team, back when they were preparing for the 2000 Olympics. I remember playing against Ronaldinho, and I thought that was pretty special. Del Piero has done everything, he’s an absolute legend in Italy and around the world. Liverpool was huge as well – Steven Gerrard and players like that. 

RC As a goalkeeper you still have to try to be intimidating, no matter who you are playing against.

NC Some goalkeepers work on pure intimidation. Fortunately this year we’ve got a big back line, so they can intimidate them for me. I don’t really try to go out there and intimidate them as part of my game, I just do the best I can and help the team as much as possible. I think if you are too worried about intimidating people then you’re probably not in the right frame of mind to keep how you want to keep. You just have to be brave; you have to be loud. For me, my focus has to be in the moment and in the game always.

RC You’re in an unusual situation because your cross-city rival [Melbourne City] has changed form. It has got new owners, a new name, a new strip. Does that change your rivalry as well?

NC At the end of the day they are the other team in the city. Two teams in Melbourne are fighting to be the No. 1 team in that city. We’ve both had good rivalry in the past. 

RC What do you think is the difference between Victory fans and City fans?

NC Obviously Victory has been there for longer so we’ve got the biggest support base in Australia. Our fans get behind the team, really are the 12th man out there on the field. Whether it is our home game or their home game, our fans always turn up in magic numbers and they are willing to support us, and want to see us do the best we can. We want to bring a title to Melbourne Victory fans.

RC You started as an outfield player. Are you going to be like Fabien Barthez and wind up playing as a midfielder one game?

NC No, I don’t think so. I would love to if I could run properly but, you know, I can’t. The way goalkeepers are going, the way the goalkeeping position is going, you have to be able to use your feet more. So I guess I’m a lonely outfield player at the back.

 

This week’s highlights…

• T20 cricket double-header – Southern Stars v West Indies (women’s); Australia v South Africa (men’s)

Tomorrow, from 2.30pm, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

• Australian Short Course Swimming Championships 

Today and tomorrow, SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, Adelaide

Buy tickets now for…

• AFC Asian Cup soccer
January 9-31; venues across Australia’s east coast

• ICC World Cup cricket

February 14-March 29; venues across Australia and New Zealand

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 8, 2014 as "Road to Victory". Subscribe here.

Richard Cooke
is a journalist and writer for television. He is The Saturday Paper's sports editor.