Antony Golec: The right move

Golec has had his ups and down before joining the Wanderers but is ready to make the most of it for his new club

Football is not always easy; sometimes you-ve got to do things the hard way. Just ask former Olyroo Antony Golec.

The 23 year-old signed a four month deal for the Western Sydney Wanderers inaugural AFC Champions League campaign in February after a proposed move to Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin fell through.

It has been a difficult season for the 194cm central defender who fell out of favour at Adelaide United despite making 15 appearances for the club last season.

The lucrative Chinese Super League seemed like the perfect place to reignite his career but upon arriving he immediately realised it was not for him.

“It wasn-t the right move for me, it didn-t feel like the right country to get the best out of me and to improve as a footballer,” he said.

“The important thing for me is to enjoy my football and learn and progress in my career and I didn-t feel it was the right step for me at the time.”

Enter Tony Popovic.

Golec played with Popovic in his final season at Sydney FC in 2008 and was guided by the Wanderers boss during Popa-s stint as assistant coach of the Sky Blues.

“Popa was the main one, I was lucky enough to play with him at Sydney FC and he actually coached me there when he retired,” he said.

“I want to learn as much as I can and I thought I had to go to the Wanderers to Tony Popovic because I know he-s the coach that can do it for me.”

Golec made his Hyundai A-League debut for Sydney as an 18 year-old in October 2008 under John Kosmina and spent three seasons there making a total of ten league appearances.

Although enjoying his time in Sydney, Golec admitted that it was the right decision to leave the club in 2011 to explore a fresh opportunity with Adelaide United.

“It was very good in the first season being a young footballer coming through your first club, you-re always excited and ready to learn,” he said.

“The second year, I was a bit young and naïve, I didn-t really understand what it was to be a professional and I let that get in the way and my football suffered.

“For me the best thing was to get out of Sydney FC; I had a lot of distractions and I was letting that get in front of what the most important thing which was playing and learning.”

Golec joined Adelaide with the opportunity of regular first team football and quickly established himself as one of the most reliable defenders at the club.

His regular appearances in his first two seasons at the club included AFC Champions League matches but the arrival of Spanish coach Josep Gombau this season saw Golec fall out of favour, something that was difficult to swallow.

“The experience was very frustrating. I will admit it was very hard but if there-s one thing about me that people know is that I don-t care if it is hard because I will try and make the impossible possible,” he said.

“I love what I do so every day at training I went in with a smile, I trained hard, I worked hard.

“It didn-t work out but I-m here now and I-m happy for that.”

Golec is unwavering in his belief that everything happens for a reason and is firmly grateful for the opportunity the Wanderers have given him.

“For now the most important thing is to be at a club where the environment is fantastic and you can learn and enjoy it, for me that was here,” he said.

“You can-t get that anywhere else in Australia, if you want to be the best player you-ve got to be at the best club and have the best coaches, quite simply that-s Western Sydney.

“I-m very happy here, it-s the first time in a long time where I come to training with a genuine smile on my face and that-s something that you really want as a player.”

The opportunity to play alongside the likes of Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Michael Beauchamp and Matthew Spiranovic is something Golec is relishing and believes it will only help him grow as a player.

“I-m at a club where even If I don-t play, I know that simply by training I-m going to learn so much more than what I would elsewhere,” he said.

“I-m pretty lucky to have three top centre backs in front of me as even if I-m not playing I learn so much from watching them; that-s the best thing being a younger footballer.”

Golec experienced first-hand the AFC Champions League during his stint with Adelaide and recognises the huge task facing the Wanderers.

But despite the challenge, Golec is confident that Tony Popovic-s men have the ability to progress deep into the competition and upset some of their more fancied rivals.

“It-s never easy; you don-t really know the players and every team is an unknown team for us so it-s going to be hard,” he said.

“It-s going to be tough but physically and technically we have a fantastic team. We-ll got to stay focused, keep working hard, have belief and we can get very far.”

Image credit: George Suresh