Sport

Socceroo James Troisi on the World Cup qualifiers and the emerging Australian style. By Jack Kerr.
Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Golden boot: James Troisi, 27, soccer player

It’s pretty full-on in Saudi Arabia. All-male crowds, obviously. It’s something different. Makes it a lot louder and a bit more rowdy. And it’s nonstop. They are chanting, they are screaming, they are shouting. One of the first things the club said to me when I got there was, “Do you have Twitter? Instagram? Watch when you start playing a few games, you’ll get a hundred-thousand-plus extra followers.” I haven’t been there too long, so I haven’t experienced what the away fans are like, and hopefully we don’t experience what things are like when you lose.

At my last club, in Belgium, I scored a nice goal and the game ended in a riot. We were playing at Standard Liège, who have probably your most fanatical crowds. They are quite a big club, and they were going through a difficult period and the fans weren’t happy. They were coming onto the pitch and everything. It wasn’t against us or anything, but it was pretty scary, probably the craziest experience with fans I can think of. The day after, their coach got the sack.

I prefer giving autographs over selfies. To be fair, there are a lot of people taking selfies these days, and sometimes it takes them a while to do it. Maybe they can’t get their camera right or their phone is locked, so you are sitting there waiting for a while. But, I mean, it’s good to have people appreciating you, and okay, it’s a little bit annoying at times, but it’s good to give back a little bit and put a smile on fans’ faces.

The goal to win the Asian Cup was definitely the most significant of my life. I don’t think you can get much better than that. Obviously scoring at a World Cup would be fantastic, but at the end of the day, I scored the goal and we took home the silverware, so, I don’t think it gets much bigger. But then pretty much all of us had to come back to Europe the next day, so we didn’t really get to feel the big benefits of it.

Our World Cup qualifying group is definitely an interesting one. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan – to be honest with you, I had never heard of some of the places. I looked them up online, and they are actually right next door to Kazakhstan, which obviously I know. Maybe it would have been nicer to go to some of the other countries in Asia, but we are there for a reason, and that’s to qualify. So we are all looking forward to it.

My father started an academy in Adelaide when I was a kid and basically he was my coach. Then once I got to the level where I could go to the UK, he was my agent and manager as well. I’ve got an agent at the moment, but I still work very closely with my father. He watches all my games and I get advice on what I should and shouldn’t be doing, and with big decisions like changing clubs, we all sit down together and see what’s best for me and my football. He’s definitely the most influential person on my career.

At the start of my career, I would definitely get starstruck. When I was starting out at Newcastle United, I was sitting on the bench quite a lot with the first team, and you are seeing these big players, like Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United. I was fortunate enough to play and train with some fantastic players – Michael Owen and players like that – so you are in with the big boys, and you learn pretty quickly not to shy away. At the end of the day, they are human beings.

I don’t know if it’s an Australian style, but the Socceroos are definitely starting to play with style. In previous years, I couldn’t really see a style that we played. Now, we are playing good attacking football, and it’s all credit to the way Ange Postecoglou has gone about things. Even when you take on bigger countries such as Germany, he doesn’t want you to be scared – he wants us to play our game and express ourselves. Previous coaches probably would have been very worried and very defensive-minded, but he’s not like that. Which suits me perfectly. The progress we have made over the past 12 or so months has been fantastic, and we definitely want to continue that.

 

This week’s highlights…

• Cricket: Australia v New Zealand 1st Test, day three

Saturday, 10am (AEST), Gabba, Brisbane 

• Horseracing: Emirates Stakes Day

Saturday, 1st race 12.20pm (AEDT), Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne 

• Motorsports: ITM 500 Australia v New Zealand

Saturday and Sunday, Pukekohe Park Raceway, Auckland

• Soccer: W-League – Melbourne Victory v Adelaide United

Sunday, 3pm (AEDT), Epping Stadium, Melbourne

• MotoGP: Valencia Grand Prix

Sunday, 11.30pm (AEDT), Circuito de la Comunitat Valenciana, Spain

• Soccer: FIFA World Cup qualifier – Australia v Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, 8pm (AEDT), GIO Stadium, Canberra

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Nov 7, 2015 as "Golden boot". Subscribe here.

Jack Kerr
is a journalist and documentary maker.

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