They say in life that all things happen for a reason. In the case of Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic it’s a sentiment that could not ring any truer.While Covic is now celebrated for his part in not only the Wanderers meteoric rise as a club but also his exploits in the Club’s memorable AFC Champions League triumph of last season, it was however a different story just a few short years ago that could’ve had a totally different ending had circumstances not have gotten in the way.
Before joining the Wanderers as the club’s inaugural goalkeeper, Covic had just completed what turned out to be his only season at Melbourne Victory, the ill-fated 2011/12 campaign.
Covic landed at Victory just days before the commencement of the season and immediately won over the club’s fans with stunning displays between the sticks, much like in the same fashion he has here at the Wanderers.
The former Socceroo was a shining light in what was a bleak season for the club. In the background of the hype and hysteria that was Victory’s year in the wake of the massive coup of signing Harry Kewell coupled with multiple managerial changes, Covic was the standout and was even judged the club’s best player for that year.
With the Victory Medal still dangling from his neck, Covic was unceremoniously discarded from the club with the arrival of Ange Postecoglou to the head coach role.
Club-less and with his career at a crossroads, fate intervened big time with the establishment of the Wanderers. Not only did Covic have his much sort after lifeline, it was to be the start of a journey not even the big man himself could dream up.
“When I left Melbourne Victory I was disappointed but I knew that wasn’t it for me. The Western Sydney Wanderers soon after got formed and that was an opportunity I needed and I think I’ve proved in the two and half seasons I’ve been here and I’m not about to stop,” said Covic.
“Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. In one way career wise, I’ve won a Champions League with the Wanderers and had I stayed at Melbourne that would not have happened.
“My time over there, I left probably when I didn’t want to leave. All that being said it thrust me in to Western Sydney and what I’ve achieved at the Wanderers you can’t buy.”
Despite the manner of his departure, Covic holds no animosity towards the club.
“I can’t say many negative things about Melbourne Victory, it was a good time for me. The season wasn’t the best on the park table wise, a little bit like we are experiencing this year.
“The club sets a high benchmark for everybody on how the place is run. The facilities they have and the standards of their fans. Between them and us, we have the two best fan bases in Australia. They are a club that has been strong since day one.”
For Covic, despite the contrasting history of the clubs, there are also obvious similarities in how both clubs operate and also where the Wanderers wish to head.
“There are similarities in what both clubs want to achieve. We’re in our infancy right now at the Wanderers and Victory have the benefit of having ten years behind them. Starting there from day one and I’m sure it would have looked very different then to what it does now. After two seasons we have areas we need to improve in.
“I know Melbourne Victory in terms of facilities they have for players and the working environment for the staff. They had to build those things up as well; we’ve set a foundation that is very good and will only improve.
“We are a club that wants to achieve the highest of the highs. In time I’d like to think that we will be up there and be the biggest and best club in Australia and I think that’s the ambition of every one at the club.”
If things do happen for a reason, it was no doubt a special reason for Ante Covic. The path between winning the Victory Medal and an AFC Champions League medal is a story to behold, one that just as easily could never have happened.
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