Feature articles written by Carla Cinco
Michael Pirone - August 2010
Michael Pirone is a natural born storyteller and he easily recounts, with precision, the journey of his soccer career that took him to see the world and create the friendships and relationships with people that he is most thankful for today.
He describes that he began playing soccer at 5 years old by accident.
Despite his dad having a football background and growing up as a Port Adelaide supporter, some how Michael began playing Elizabeth District Junior soccer and beginning a soccer career that he associates with the best times of his life.
At a young age Michael played for Modbury Vista, Para Hills East and then at 15 years old debuted for Salisbury United U19's. In 1994 Michael earned a scholarship with the prestigious SASI, and in 1995 captained the team that won the SASI championship.
In addition to SASI, in 1994 Michael was also selected for the Adelaide City NSL squad, playing his first game at 18 years old. He played for 3 years with Adelaide City, amongst a very strong squad including 5 who went on to play for the Socceroos, and despite enjoying his time there he found it difficult to get playing time.
From 1995 to 1997 Michael was part of the U20's young Socceroos with team mates that included familiar names such as Brett Emerton, Vince Grella and his room mate, Harry Kewel, however he disappointingly missed out on playing in the World Cup. During this time Michael toured the world, including South America, South Africa, Tahiti, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay and played against soccer greats such as Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso and Roman Riquelme, in front of 40,000 strong crowds and even playing live on TV. "These are things you don't forget as a kid” Michael says.
In 1999, Michael came to the realisation that for him soccer wasn't going to pay the bills and decided to concentrate on study, including a Bachelor of Management with a Major in International Relations.
He continued playing soccer however and after stints at Elizabeth City and Croydon, in 2002 Michael began playing for Blue Eagles in what he describes as one of the best sides he has played in, with players including Altone, Brooks, Sergi, Delucia and Sattin.
In 2003, despite Metro's best efforts to woo him, Michael stayed at Blue Eagles, scoring against the Stars in the grand final and winning 2-1. In 2007 when Metro once again came calling Michael happily accepted, swayed by the quality of the people at the club and the quality of the team including Altone, Karlovic and coach Mike Barnett, "and the fact that I would get to party with Godley, Robinson and Menechella”.
"The last 2 and a half years have been some of the happiest football times of my life and for my wife, Vanessa” Michael says. "We have made some of our best friends here, life long friends, and that is the thing I am most grateful for from my football times. I am especially really happy that my wife has made really good friends here”.
He describes one of his best moments as the 2008 FFSA cup final where he scored the winning goal against Adelaide City. But he describes the best part as being able to celebrate with friends at the club, especially old friend David Terminello. "I am really proud to be a part of Metro's history” he says in all seriousness.
With heartfelt sincerity, Michael takes the opportunity to express his genuine gratitude for what he has gained from the Metro Stars soccer club. "I am so grateful to the club for restoring my will to play. Some difficult things have happened to Vanessa and I in the last 6 weeks but we will be forever grateful for the support of the Metro Stars soccer club and all our friends and to the football community. I am now looking forward to my retirement and the start of my new business which has always been a dream and hopefully looking forward to having a family”.
For now Michael is very happy playing for Metro which he calls a second family. He has many interesting stories to tell and he tells them with a passion that is easy to listen to and get caught up in and lets you know how much his journey has meant to him. As he continues to play his best soccer, "A couple of weeks ago I scored against Campbelltown, the best goal I have ever scored!”, you know Pirone's story is far from over.
Nathan Wildy - August 2010
At the time of interviewing Nathan Wildy he held the position of Metro Stars emergency back up goal keeper. However, in pursuit of a lifestyle centred on Asian philosophy, which inspired his coaching and lifestyle since a previous trip to Japan, Nathan has since embarked on an indefinite trip to Japan to work in an English school as a liaison officer.
Nathan began playing soccer as a 4 year old and it was years later during a stint with SAPSASA that he was placed in goals, simply because he was the tallest kid on the field. After one week he was selected for the state squad before playing for 2 years with the very first SASI squad when he was 15. Nathan's playing history goes on to include playing for the Under 20's school boys for Australia at 16 years old and training camps with the youth Socceroos as well as playing for the Olyroos in 2000. At 17 Nathan began playing for West Adelaide and started in his first National League game at 18 years old.
And so began a 3 year stint with NSL team West Adelaide before a disheartening final season when the team went bankrupt. After this, Nathan chose to take a break from the game and didn't play again for 6 years after that.
In 2006, persuaded by then coach Mike Barnett, Nathan took the role of filling in for the first team at Metro while goal keeper Godley recovered from injury. When Godley was then back on track, Nathan became goal keeper for the reserves where just into his third game he was hit with a challenging blow. With a "crack heard all around the ground”, Nathan broke his tibia in his right leg, a clean break that would take 6 months to heal.
During the presentation night of 2006, Nathan was asked to become goal keeper coach for the first team and starred in that role until this year when he headed off to Japan indefinitely. During his time as coach Nathan discovered he actually prefers coaching to playing, " I get more of a buzz from seeing my goalies perform and watching them grow and hold their own on the field. Coaching is an even bigger buzz than a goalie in a penalty box at shoot outs.”
After close calls to make prestigious squads such as the Sydney Olympic squad, Nathan was burnt out and disillusioned as a player and so began his journey that landed him in Japan before travelling around Europe and returning home after 2.5 years. When Nathan returned, he was inspired with the Asian philosophy of the power of the mind and now imparts this philosophy on to his goal keeping pupils.
Nathan says the power begins before the goalie is even on the pitch. He is playing the game as he enters the field; his presence, his walk, his body language and his vocalisations should all express "I'm in control of this game and my team are my orchestra”.
While excited to be moving to Japan, at the time of the interview Nathan was pensive with thoughts of how he will miss Metro Stars. Having played for many clubs, Nathan believes "nothing comes close to Metro Stars”. With an atmosphere that makes him want to keep coming back Nathan says " I will be a Metro Stars man to the day I die”.
On contemplating his leaving he also expressed his desire for Godley to take his place one day believing he would make an excellent goal keeping coach, and when the time comes he would hope he would take on the role, "he is great with advice… but he would never be better than I am”.
Nathan's qualities for a good goal keeper include being the fittest player on the field, athleticism, agility, flexibility, fitness, strength, speed and reflexes and power to dive as well as being a good shot stopper. But what separates the good goal keepers from the great is their leadership qualities, directing the players and messing with the opposition's minds, "The goal keeper needs to have a stronger mental game than all the others on the field”.
Nathan's tip for the up and coming goal keepers is to "Make sure you are fit, be a leader, know how to direct your team, feel the emotion of the team and be ready and able to calm or encourage them as needed. The mood of the team starts from the goalie and filters out over the field.”
Nathan's hopes for Metro this season are to see them at the top of the table taking out another championship. Nathan swears he will call from Japan with a bar full of Japanese people ready to sing the Vengaboys theme song when they win. "I have never enjoyed being a part of a soccer club as much as this place”.
Louis Brain - July 2010
Louis Brain acknowledges he has been very fortunate through his soccer career and has willingly allowed the game to take him all over the world.
He began playing soccer for Salisibury East at the very young age of 3 years old before progressing to Para Hills at 10 years old. At 14, Louis was playing in the U19's for the Modbury Jets when he also signed with SASI for 3 and a half years. It was at SASI that Louis trained under coach Martin Crook, who he credits as being the biggest influence on his career and says his time there set the platform for his future.
At 16 Louis went on to sign a 6 month contract with UK team Westham where he played in both the youth team and the reserves and it was during this time that Louis says he learned to stand on his own 2 feet. In 1999 as his contract came up for renewal however, Louis' home sickness was at its peak and at 16 years old he decided to return home and play in the U17's Australian Team World Cup in New Zealand.
In 2001 Louis was part of the first Australian squad to be included in the East Asian Games although unfortunately beaten in the finals. Home for 3 nights, Louis was then off again to play in the U20's World Cup squad in Argentina where they were beaten by Brazil in the Round of 16.
In 2002 Louis returned to Scotland to play for Dundee where he played reserves and trained with the first team. He returned to Australia in 2003 playing for Sydney United for 1 season and in 2004 moved to Queensland to play for Brisbane Strikers, choosing to live on the Gold Coast and driving down every night for the training sessions.
In 2005, Louis signed with Adelaide United where he found the squad ‘phenomenal' and loved being amongst the patriotic feel of the team. Being the beginning of the A-League, Louis describes the ‘buzz' of the atmosphere at the games that were packed every match and the feeling of having supporters behind you. "When the crowd is behind you, you really feel it”.
In 2006 Louis became captain for the Modbury Jets and simultaneously played for Dandenong Thunder in Victoria. Living in Adelaide, Louis would fly over every Thursday night for the game. Despite signing with Metro in 2007, Louis again simultaneously played for Dandenong Thunder, flying over on game day for the matches, "Metro never stands in anybody's way”.
In 2010, when Louis was part of the championship team at Metro that took home the premiership he was ecstatic but not surprised, coming away with the feeling that his team could win for the next 3 years, "With the team we have I am not surprised with where we are and I see no reason for change”
"I'm enjoying playing at the moment, there are a good bunch of boys around me. Terminello has put a new spin on what we can do”.
His advice to young players, " If you get knocked back from teams or clubs, just get on with it and work harder. Have your own set goals and work towards them”.
In 2005, Louis married Angel and together they now have 2 children, Izaak 3 and a half and Lily, 6 months.
"I have been very blessed. I have been committed to soccer for a long time and my wife has committed a lot of time and energy into supporting me; I am very fortunate to have her in my life… In every players career there comes a time to make decisions between committing to soccer or to other parts of your life. I am now committed to creating our families path and our life forward, I have no regrets. If you can come out of a career and say that, you would be very happy”.
Scott Tunbridge - June 2010
When Scott Tunbridge told his primary school teacher he wanted to be a professional soccer player when he grew up the teacher turned to his parents and said "you know what, I think he will be”.
From an early age Scott showed the determination and resilience that is needed to strive for a dream, no matter how many obstacles arise.
As a 14 year old, Scott made lists of his goals for the year and would stick them to his wardrobe, fridge, bedroom door and bathroom door. Each year these lists consisted of small achievable goals that he knew would all one day make him the best professional soccer player he could be. Each year he completed every one of those goals.
With ‘determination' tattooed on his arm Scott lives by the motto of "I don't accept failure, I fight it”. His story is inspiring and is tribute to the fact that no one can ever tell you that you can't reach your dream. That is entirely up to you.
Scott started playing at Metro Stars in 2007 and at the time of this story, he was the top goal scorer with 8 goals in the past 7 games.
Scott began playing soccer as a 3 and a half-year-old for Elizabeth Downs and having played there for the first 10 years of his career he is now a lifetime member. He debuted for Adelaide City in 1999 as an 18 year old and finished as the top goal scorer in his first 3 seasons for the club. He went on to play for South Melbourne in 2003 before venturing over to Scotland in 2004 and playing for Division 1 team at the time, Hamilton Academicals, for 3 years. A short stint at Newcastle Jets in 2006 followed, before coming to Metro in 2007.
Scott's playing history is impressive with a mixture of National and International playing levels, however he will be the first to tell you that he had to fight for every small success. "I was never the most talented player in the squad, I was never the first one picked, I knew I had to work hard to get what I wanted. But it's not in my nature to give up”.
When Scott first tried out for SASI as an aspiring young soccer player he was told not to get his hopes up and that he should realistically only expect to play 2-3 games at most. When many young players would be crushed and lose hope Scott thought ‘ill prove you wrong' and took the scholarship. In the first game of the season was put on to play as a substitute for an injured player. After his performance that game Scott ended up playing every game that year for SASI and the following year was captain of the team.
His time playing in Scotland is a much similar tale of fighting sceptics and doubts. By the middle of his first season for Hamilton, Scott was top goal scorer when a knee injury saw him released from the club to come home for rehabilitation for 6 months. Going back to Scotland for pre season the year after provided some challenges, as a new team manager who had no interest in Scott was hesitant to sign him. Once the club president put his foot down Scott was re-signed but as fate would have it, at the end of his 2nd year Scott had a hamstring injury and struggled to get game time as a result.
As a token Aussie in the Scotland team Scott had acquired quite a fan base and as a proper farewell to his fans, asked to play the last game of the season. In true Tunbridge fashion, right when it was supposed to be game over, Scott played his best game ever for the club. He was asked to come back for a 3rd and what would be final year, and after scoring 6 goals in 3 games a hamstring injury interfered once again.
In 2006 he finally decided to come home when he was offered a 2-year contact with Newcastle.
Scott remembers his time in Scotland very fondly, ‘it was the time of my life'. He made life long friends and shared the life of a professional soccer player with his wife in a country where Soccer has a huge fan base. He received a lot of publicity where just walking to the supermarket he would be stopped for a photograph, many articles were written about him in the paper and cartoon sketches appeared in the local magazines.
For now the goal lists have stopped and Scott is content to be where he is, "I'm happy just playing at the moment”.
21 month old daughter Savannah Lily, and wife Emma (expecting their second child at the end of the month) also keep him content. "I love my family life. I love coming home to my daughter”. He thanks his wife for the support she provided to encourage him to pursue his dream.
Scott sees each set back that has happened in his career, as a "hurdle that was there to test me. If you want it bad enough, you jump them”.
Lee Robertson - June 2010
What does it take to be the best defender in the Super League? "Skills, determination, commitment…and having fun”.
That's according to Metro Stars Vice Captain of 4 years and star defender, Lee Robertson.
Lee started playing soccer as a 5 year old for Smithfield Plains before playing for Elizabeth Downs at 6 years old. At 13 he began a stint with APAC for 2 years followed by Campbelltown City and Playford.
As a 23 year old, Lee took a chance at playing for Scotland team Greenock. He spent 1 year at this professional level; training ever day and playing in front of 2000 people each game.
On his return in 2004, Robertson joined the Metro Stars First Team and began leaving his mark as a top defender in the Super League. He is now settled in Adelaide with new wife Samantha and as Vice Captain is leading by example.
Lee's story of success is a true example of the power that determination, commitment and skill can have when combined with truly loving what you do as a soccer player.
Skills. "Read the play”.
Through his experience Lee instinctively plays with an intensity on the field that rivals all others. Further to this he has mastered the ability of ‘reading the game' and knowing his opponents next move.
As part of the leadership group for Metro, he feels his responsibilities include passing on these learned skills through setting a good example and encouraging the other players.
As Vice Captain also, Lee sees his role is to support the captain, Ivan, give advice and lead as a player. However Lee emphasises that skill often comes with experience but it is the attitude of a player that will see him succeed.
Determination. ‘I play to enjoy myself, but I also play to win'.
Lee's determined attitude to always play to his best ability has seen him gain a reputation for training as hard as he plays. However, he sees this preparation as just a necessity for a player to keep his edge over his opponent.
Acknowledging the high level of players and skill amongst the Super League this season he says, "Every game this season is like a grand final, the league is quite tight”.
Commitment."never give up and take opportunities when they present themselves”.
Beginning the season as champions, Robertson recognises "It is a challenge to live up to the standard Metro set for itself last year – we have to keep the bar high”.
However, with confidence and commitment to the faith in his team, Lee is quietly confident Metro has a good chance this season, especially as long as the group stays close knit and everyone continues to back each other as they do.
Robertson feels that with the mix of players, supporters and committee members at Metro, it makes it a great place to come to and his is fully committed to its success as a club.
Fun."To have a laugh while you are working hard keeps you sane and shows how close the team is”.
In searching for a trick of the trade on how to maintain the intensity Lee does every game he says it simply comes naturally through the enjoyment he gets from the game.
His advice to others is "enjoy yourself – do the hard work when you need to but have fun when you can”.
Before the end of our interview Lee adds a special thanks to supporters and the committee for their time, support and generosity in keeping the club going. Perhaps we should add appreciation as one of his qualities for success.