Daniel Alessi: The Defence Rests

Get to know our young star as we catch up with the tall defender.

One thing that strikes you when speaking with 16 year old Daniel Alessi is the confidence he possesses. Not long after learning to walk the round ball was never far from reach or his feet for that matter, such is the pattern of progression for many footballers his age.

Daniel-s early years were spent playing for local Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Pymble and it was obvious his growth chart far exceeded that of his classmates. Thankful for his Italian pedigree, Daniel is happy to wear his height advantage as a badge of honour in those all-important aerial contests for possession.

To say 2014 has started well for the St Joseph-s student is a massive understatement. As he trained with his Foxtel NYL teammates over the summer he was blissfully unaware his hard work and dedication was about to pay off.

Wanderer-s coach Tony Popovic keeps a very keen eye on the NYL talent and saw an ingredient in the youngster that warranted a call up to the senior side.

“I knew something was up when Ante Covic and Tony Popovic approached me after training to inform me that I would be playing on the weekend in the senior team,” said Daniel.

“I didn't know what to think and it really didn't sink in until I was driving home on my L plates with my Mum and told her in the car!

“Mum said ‘What? You-re playing in the Derby?- She was excited as anyone but not surprised as she knows how hard I work.

“To play my first senior game is a memory that will be hard to emulate. To debut in a Sydney Derby against one of the finest players in the world in Alessandro Del Piero was the icing on the cake.

“Competing with the likes of Del Piero was an amazing experience. He-s a player that just seems to operate at a different speed to everyone else on the pitch.

“You cannot ease off your intensity as a defender for one minute or he can and most probably will convert that tiny advantage into a massive punishment.

“The best thing about playing for the Wanderers is the confidence and the self-belief that grows within you. The staff and senior players are so encouraging and they trust your ability as a player no matter what your age.”

Daniel-s hard work has paid off with another call up into the Paul Okon managed Young Socceroos squad. The squad is looking to build momentum ahead of the AFC Championship tournament in Myanmar later in the year.

To finish in the top four will mean an all-important qualifying spot for the 2015 FIFA U20 World Cup hosted by our neighbours across the ditch in New Zealand.

“To be selected in the Young Socceroos squad is an amazing honour but to share it with four of my Wanderer-s team mates in Shayne D-Cunha, Alusine Fofanah, Lawrence Hanna, and Thomas Manos is extra special.

“To also have our keeper Thomas in goals gives me plenty of reassurance as we seem to know what each other is thinking which is so important in defence.”

Daniel draws his football inspiration from watching and training with the senior team and continually admires the way goalkeeper Ante Covic lifts the team from the back.

“Ante is wonderful communicator and as a young defender having him in the box behind you gives you that added security and confidence as the opposition attack approaches.”

It is Daniel-s ultimate aim to play regular senior football and secure a Hyundai A-League contract with his beloved Wanderers. For now it-s all about the present and working hard, learning and soaking up any opportunities that comes with being a young footballer.

Image Credit: George Suresh