Who are the people who inspire you to be a better version of yourself?
Part of who I am today is because of the people that I looked up to when I was younger. I had a lot of football idols growing up: the golden generation of the Socceroos with the likes of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Mark Schwarzer just to name a few. I remember watching that epic game when we made it through the World Cup qualifiers with the penalty shoot-out. Even though I was quite young and might not have fully understood the significance of that win, I did get the sense that what they did was something hugely important. They were a real inspiration for me throughout my childhood: I wanted to be just like them, play like them, and represent Australian football just like them.
I had the opportunity to see some of my idols growing up. I’ll never forget Mum taking my brothers and I into one of our local shopping centres in Newcastle to see Mark Schwarzer. To this day we still have the ball and book he signed for us all those years ago. These brief opportunities to see these guys in the flesh really encouraged me to keep at it, to become better at the game I loved, and to dream big from a young age. I loved looking up to these people that I admired as a young boy, dreaming to be like them one day.
As much as I was inspired by these amazing footballers growing up, I started to realize that there were other people closer to home who would become my greatest supporters in encouraging me to pursue the dreams of playing football at a professional level. I could not have gotten this far without the support of my family, closest friends and the footballing community in Newcastle. Throughout the highs and lows, they have always continued to support and inspire me to be a fitter, stronger and better footballer.
Being surrounded by people who inspire you is important – from family, to friends, to coaches, to mentors. I’ve been really lucky to have had all of these as part of a good support system around me. These people inspire me to not give up, to keep on going, and to give back to a sport which I love.