Infotainment Factory: How 'cocky' Socceroo overcame devastating setback

Trending

>

Post Top Ad

Post Top Ad

Monday, 8 July 2019

How 'cocky' Socceroo overcame devastating setback


//

In October last year, Daniel Arzani’s meteoric rise in the football world came to a grinding, and heartbreaking halt. The young man touted as the biggest thing in Australian football since Harry Kewell faced the greatest hurdle of his career to date.

In his debut match with Scottish champions Celtic, less than 10 months after he had made his first senior start with A-League side Melbourne City, the then 19-year-old fell to the ground in agony.

He had torn his ACL. His season with Celtic was over. His plans to help the Socceroos in their Asian Cup defence in January were done. It was a devastating blow to all the momentum he had been riding to that point.

“Initially when it happened I didn’t actually think I did my ACL. I was pretty convinced that I hadn’t because - touch wood - through my whole football career I’d never really had a serious injury or any kind of injury at all. So I was thinking there’s no way, it’s just a bit of a scare,” Arzani exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

Doctors soon confirmed the worst, and next came the sinking feeling of the work that lay ahead, with surgery in Spain, followed by months of gruelling rehab.

“It was really unfortunate with the ACL happening on debut, which is very unlucky, but it is what it is,” Arzani said, rubbing the scar on his left knee.

“The hardest part about the surgery was when they took my leg out of the cast, and my left quad and my left calf were just skin and bones. There was nothing to it.

“It’s kind of that realisation that dawns on you, that you’re going to have to build your body literally from the ground up again. It was tough but we’re almost there.”

Daniel Arzani was injured in his Celtic debut

Now almost nine months on, Arzani has finally been able to return to the training pitch and shared with fans some of his progress on Instagram while he was in Australia for a brief visit last month. Some much-needed time back in Sydney with his family, including his mum’s home cooking, also helped his rehab.

“Everything is going really well now and everything is on track. I had my physio staying with me in the off-season and we’re working really hard to get everything sorted,” Arzani said.

“I haven’t posted much on social media throughout my whole rehab, but coming into Australia I’ve posted a little bit just to let people know I’m still alive.”

Arzani is heading back to football in Scotland, where he’s aiming to make his long-awaited return for Celtic sooner than expected. Though he was eyeing a return to the Celtic squad in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier at home against Sarajevo on July 18 (AEST), Arzani was today named for the first leg in Bosnia tomorrow morning, July 10 (AEST).

It's not yet clear if Celtic coach Neil Lennon plans on putting him on to play any minutes, but at the very least it was a positive sign that Arzani was named in the squad.

https://twitter.com/Socceroos/status/1148393244365131777

In preparation for a fresh start with 'The Bhoys' he’s set up a home for himself in the same apartment block as fellow Socceroo and Celtic teammate, Tom Rogic. Though he’s known to enjoy Call of Duty LAN parties with mates when he’s back home in Maroubra – “I’m a monster at COD”, he says proudly – in Glasgow, Arzani said he and Rogic keep their downtime together very low-key.

“We just kind of chill, just in front of the TV. We don’t really do much,” he said.

“We’re both pretty lazy, so it works out well!”

Arzani is taking it one step at a time getting back to his peak both physically and mentally. He’s well aware of the common situation some footballers face after a major injury, struggling to pick up where they left off, however Arzani is adamant he has what it takes to rebound even stronger.

“I think with any kind of injury there’s always a little bit of a step back, but I think it’s also important to be patient with it and take your time coming back,” he said.

“I also think it’s a mindset thing. If you think that it’s going to affect you and set you back, then it will. But if you just think of it as a normal obstacle that every other footballer around the world has to face, then that’s all it’s going to be.”

Australia's Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani joke around before the Socceroos team photo

‘I WAS VERY COCKY’ – TIME FOR REFLECTION

If anything, the injury has provided him a valuable opportunity to learn and reflect on just how far he’s come, and the whirlwind journey of the last year and a half.

It wasn’t that long ago Arzani was still playing in the youth league with Sydney FC and then Melbourne City. In early January last year City gave him his shot in the senior side in the A-League, where off the bench he provided two assists in a comeback victory. His impact was immense and immediate, not necessarily in goal-scoring, but in his ability to bamboozle defences, show off his pace, create space, deliver pin-point passes and cause all-round headaches for his opposition.

Arzani was named A-League Young Footballer of the Year, and won the Harry Kewell Medal for the best male player under 23. In May last year he was in the Socceroos squad. In a friendly in June he scored his first international goal and later that month he was on the plane to the World Cup in Russia, where he played in every group match.

English Premier League champions Manchester City – with the same owner as his A-League club – snapped Arzani up in August and a week later Celtic took him on loan. Now he calls Glasgow home with one of the biggest clubs in European football that consistently plays in the Champions League.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkzrco0A0PZ/

Arzani’s superb skill with the ball at his feet, attacking prowess, quality touch and finish, and football IQ is what has led him to all this success. A little bit of confidence served him well too.

“For me it was always a waiting game. When I was even playing in the youth team at Melbourne City I was always telling people that I thought I was going to be in the World Cup,” he said.

“And I know that’s kind of a ridiculous thing to say when you’re playing at that level, but I just always had that belief in myself. So, when those things started happening, I was kind of like, ‘Ok, finally what I thought was going to happen was happening’. So it wasn’t like a massive shock.

“Now that I look back on it I think, wow, I was very cocky. Like, how can you even expect something like that to happen when you’re playing at that level? But the fact that everything worked out, I guess, I’ll just keep going.”

Daniel Arzani at Melbourne City is congratulated by teammate Scott Jamieson after scoring

CITY’S ROLE IN ARZANI’S REHAB

Manchester City have kept a close eye on the Iran-born, Australia-raised football talent.

Arzani said City have “commandeered” his rehab since the ACL injury - but he means that in the best possible way. 

“They’ve played a very active role in my rehab. They’ve been sending a physio or fitness coach early every week up at Celtic when I was doing my rehab there,” he said.

“They’ve been in contact a lot with Cody [Melbourne City physiotherapist Cody Williamson] and the Socceroos. They’ve been doing a really good job and I think together with Celtic, they’ve really gotten the best out of me for my rehab.”

Though he is yet to play a full season with Celtic, Arzani says he sees himself as a player with the potential to play for Manchester City in the EPL in the future.

“I think that was the goal initially when I signed for them, to eventually play in the EPL and hopefully for them,” he said.

“But right now, I’m just focusing on getting back, getting strong and I’m sure the football will take care of itself.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqafUQYAP2I/

LIFE AT CELTIC

At Celtic in the second season of his two-year loan with the club, Arzani is eager to make an impression on newly appointed coach Neil Lennon.

The former Hibernian manager replaced Brendan Rodgers after the latter went to coach Leicester City. Rodgers was the man who brought Arzani over to Glasgow, but the Aussie is hopeful of winning the new gaffer’s favour, especially with a number of strong wingers in the side fuelling competition.

“With any change in coach to the club, you hope that the coach takes a liking to you,” Arzani said.

“But having seen what I’ve seen of Neil, he also seems like a nice guy. He seems like he’s easy to get along with and hopefully he likes that way I play.

“I’m really enjoying my time at Celtic. It’s a really good club, with really good people working there.”

Arzani during his Celtic debut

Within the squad, he’s naturally gravitated towards fellow Aussie Rogic, but has also clicked with young forward Mikey Johnston.

“It’s a good bunch of lads,” Arzani said.

“Tommy [Rogic] is such a good guy. He’s helped me out a lot especially in the beginning when I went into the squad and I didn’t know anyone. It’s good to have another Aussie there.

“When I first went in, someone else that I was really impressed by was one of the young boys - actually the same age as me – Mikey [Johnston].

“He’s a really good player, really sharp. I think he’s going to have a really big season. He’s starting to break through into the squad and he’s one of my good mates as well. I’m just really happy for him.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp0SrApgJff/

There have been some other hurdles apart from his obvious injury woes too. Though being at an English-speaking club in Europe is an advantage, Arzani admits the dialect and accent sometimes leave he and Rogic a little confused.

“They speak the same language as us, both English-speaking countries, but I don’t understand the banter a little bit with the boys,” Arzani said.

“Sometimes I’ll say something that I think is super funny and me and Tommy will laugh, and everyone kind of looks at us funny. Then they’ll say something which I think isn’t funny and everyone is pissing themselves and I’ll be like, whoa, whatever.

“But I just don’t get it sometimes.”

Arzani is keen to get back out there on the pitch playing regularly for 'The Hoops' soon, and prove himself the only way he knows how.

He said the feeling of walking out at Celtic Park in front of their incredibly loud and passionate supporters still gives him goosebumps. And to play in front of the passionate Celtic fans that have shown him plenty of love since his arrival at the club, is just another motivator to get back stronger than ever.

“It’s crazy. Because people always say the Rangers game [Old Firm derby] is a crazy atmosphere, but even the standard league game, going into Celtic Park, the stadium is packed, the people are going crazy – it’s the best,” Arzani explained.

Daniel Arzani

“I think the biggest difference between playing in the A-League and the Scottish League is the physicality though.

“People are very strong and very fast, especially at Celtic which is by far the best club in the league.

“It helps develop you as a person as well as a footballer, because you go there, and usually I’m used to being quite fast on my team, and I’m not slow, but I’m not super-fast either in this squad.

“It’s like doing your knee – you have to rebuild yourself and work on all the things that you used to be good at and make them even better.”

Videos shot and edited by: Mark Broome - Interview: Melanie Dinjaski

In October last year, Daniel Arzani’s meteoric rise in the football world came to a grinding, and heartbreaking halt. The young man touted as the biggest thing in Australian football since Harry Kewell faced the greatest hurdle of his career to date.

In his debut match with Scottish champions Celtic, less than 10 months after he had made his first senior start with A-League side Melbourne City, the then 19-year-old fell to the ground in agony.

He had torn his ACL. His season with Celtic was over. His plans to help the Socceroos in their Asian Cup defence in January were done. It was a devastating blow to all the momentum he had been riding to that point.

“Initially when it happened I didn’t actually think I did my ACL. I was pretty convinced that I hadn’t because - touch wood - through my whole football career I’d never really had a serious injury or any kind of injury at all. So I was thinking there’s no way, it’s just a bit of a scare,” Arzani exclusively told Wide World of Sports.

Doctors soon confirmed the worst, and next came the sinking feeling of the work that lay ahead, with surgery in Spain, followed by months of gruelling rehab.

“It was really unfortunate with the ACL happening on debut, which is very unlucky, but it is what it is,” Arzani said, rubbing the scar on his left knee.

“The hardest part about the surgery was when they took my leg out of the cast, and my left quad and my left calf were just skin and bones. There was nothing to it.

“It’s kind of that realisation that dawns on you, that you’re going to have to build your body literally from the ground up again. It was tough but we’re almost there.”

Daniel Arzani was injured in his Celtic debut

Now almost nine months on, Arzani has finally been able to return to the training pitch and shared with fans some of his progress on Instagram while he was in Australia for a brief visit last month. Some much-needed time back in Sydney with his family, including his mum’s home cooking, also helped his rehab.

“Everything is going really well now and everything is on track. I had my physio staying with me in the off-season and we’re working really hard to get everything sorted,” Arzani said.

“I haven’t posted much on social media throughout my whole rehab, but coming into Australia I’ve posted a little bit just to let people know I’m still alive.”

Arzani is heading back to football in Scotland, where he’s aiming to make his long-awaited return for Celtic sooner than expected. Though he was eyeing a return to the Celtic squad in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier at home against Sarajevo on July 18 (AEST), Arzani was today named for the first leg in Bosnia tomorrow morning, July 10 (AEST).

It's not yet clear if Celtic coach Neil Lennon plans on putting him on to play any minutes, but at the very least it was a positive sign that Arzani was named in the squad.

https://twitter.com/Socceroos/status/1148393244365131777

In preparation for a fresh start with 'The Bhoys' he’s set up a home for himself in the same apartment block as fellow Socceroo and Celtic teammate, Tom Rogic. Though he’s known to enjoy Call of Duty LAN parties with mates when he’s back home in Maroubra – “I’m a monster at COD”, he says proudly – in Glasgow, Arzani said he and Rogic keep their downtime together very low-key.

“We just kind of chill, just in front of the TV. We don’t really do much,” he said.

“We’re both pretty lazy, so it works out well!”

Arzani is taking it one step at a time getting back to his peak both physically and mentally. He’s well aware of the common situation some footballers face after a major injury, struggling to pick up where they left off, however Arzani is adamant he has what it takes to rebound even stronger.

“I think with any kind of injury there’s always a little bit of a step back, but I think it’s also important to be patient with it and take your time coming back,” he said.

“I also think it’s a mindset thing. If you think that it’s going to affect you and set you back, then it will. But if you just think of it as a normal obstacle that every other footballer around the world has to face, then that’s all it’s going to be.”

Australia's Tom Rogic and Daniel Arzani joke around before the Socceroos team photo

‘I WAS VERY COCKY’ – TIME FOR REFLECTION

If anything, the injury has provided him a valuable opportunity to learn and reflect on just how far he’s come, and the whirlwind journey of the last year and a half.

It wasn’t that long ago Arzani was still playing in the youth league with Sydney FC and then Melbourne City. In early January last year City gave him his shot in the senior side in the A-League, where off the bench he provided two assists in a comeback victory. His impact was immense and immediate, not necessarily in goal-scoring, but in his ability to bamboozle defences, show off his pace, create space, deliver pin-point passes and cause all-round headaches for his opposition.

Arzani was named A-League Young Footballer of the Year, and won the Harry Kewell Medal for the best male player under 23. In May last year he was in the Socceroos squad. In a friendly in June he scored his first international goal and later that month he was on the plane to the World Cup in Russia, where he played in every group match.

English Premier League champions Manchester City – with the same owner as his A-League club – snapped Arzani up in August and a week later Celtic took him on loan. Now he calls Glasgow home with one of the biggest clubs in European football that consistently plays in the Champions League.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bkzrco0A0PZ/

Arzani’s superb skill with the ball at his feet, attacking prowess, quality touch and finish, and football IQ is what has led him to all this success. A little bit of confidence served him well too.

“For me it was always a waiting game. When I was even playing in the youth team at Melbourne City I was always telling people that I thought I was going to be in the World Cup,” he said.

“And I know that’s kind of a ridiculous thing to say when you’re playing at that level, but I just always had that belief in myself. So, when those things started happening, I was kind of like, ‘Ok, finally what I thought was going to happen was happening’. So it wasn’t like a massive shock.

“Now that I look back on it I think, wow, I was very cocky. Like, how can you even expect something like that to happen when you’re playing at that level? But the fact that everything worked out, I guess, I’ll just keep going.”

Daniel Arzani at Melbourne City is congratulated by teammate Scott Jamieson after scoring

CITY’S ROLE IN ARZANI’S REHAB

Manchester City have kept a close eye on the Iran-born, Australia-raised football talent.

Arzani said City have “commandeered” his rehab since the ACL injury - but he means that in the best possible way. 

“They’ve played a very active role in my rehab. They’ve been sending a physio or fitness coach early every week up at Celtic when I was doing my rehab there,” he said.

“They’ve been in contact a lot with Cody [Melbourne City physiotherapist Cody Williamson] and the Socceroos. They’ve been doing a really good job and I think together with Celtic, they’ve really gotten the best out of me for my rehab.”

Though he is yet to play a full season with Celtic, Arzani says he sees himself as a player with the potential to play for Manchester City in the EPL in the future.

“I think that was the goal initially when I signed for them, to eventually play in the EPL and hopefully for them,” he said.

“But right now, I’m just focusing on getting back, getting strong and I’m sure the football will take care of itself.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqafUQYAP2I/

LIFE AT CELTIC

At Celtic in the second season of his two-year loan with the club, Arzani is eager to make an impression on newly appointed coach Neil Lennon.

The former Hibernian manager replaced Brendan Rodgers after the latter went to coach Leicester City. Rodgers was the man who brought Arzani over to Glasgow, but the Aussie is hopeful of winning the new gaffer’s favour, especially with a number of strong wingers in the side fuelling competition.

“With any change in coach to the club, you hope that the coach takes a liking to you,” Arzani said.

“But having seen what I’ve seen of Neil, he also seems like a nice guy. He seems like he’s easy to get along with and hopefully he likes that way I play.

“I’m really enjoying my time at Celtic. It’s a really good club, with really good people working there.”

Arzani during his Celtic debut

Within the squad, he’s naturally gravitated towards fellow Aussie Rogic, but has also clicked with young forward Mikey Johnston.

“It’s a good bunch of lads,” Arzani said.

“Tommy [Rogic] is such a good guy. He’s helped me out a lot especially in the beginning when I went into the squad and I didn’t know anyone. It’s good to have another Aussie there.

“When I first went in, someone else that I was really impressed by was one of the young boys - actually the same age as me – Mikey [Johnston].

“He’s a really good player, really sharp. I think he’s going to have a really big season. He’s starting to break through into the squad and he’s one of my good mates as well. I’m just really happy for him.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bp0SrApgJff/

There have been some other hurdles apart from his obvious injury woes too. Though being at an English-speaking club in Europe is an advantage, Arzani admits the dialect and accent sometimes leave he and Rogic a little confused.

“They speak the same language as us, both English-speaking countries, but I don’t understand the banter a little bit with the boys,” Arzani said.

“Sometimes I’ll say something that I think is super funny and me and Tommy will laugh, and everyone kind of looks at us funny. Then they’ll say something which I think isn’t funny and everyone is pissing themselves and I’ll be like, whoa, whatever.

“But I just don’t get it sometimes.”

Arzani is keen to get back out there on the pitch playing regularly for 'The Hoops' soon, and prove himself the only way he knows how.

He said the feeling of walking out at Celtic Park in front of their incredibly loud and passionate supporters still gives him goosebumps. And to play in front of the passionate Celtic fans that have shown him plenty of love since his arrival at the club, is just another motivator to get back stronger than ever.

“It’s crazy. Because people always say the Rangers game [Old Firm derby] is a crazy atmosphere, but even the standard league game, going into Celtic Park, the stadium is packed, the people are going crazy – it’s the best,” Arzani explained.

Daniel Arzani

“I think the biggest difference between playing in the A-League and the Scottish League is the physicality though.

“People are very strong and very fast, especially at Celtic which is by far the best club in the league.

“It helps develop you as a person as well as a footballer, because you go there, and usually I’m used to being quite fast on my team, and I’m not slow, but I’m not super-fast either in this squad.

“It’s like doing your knee – you have to rebuild yourself and work on all the things that you used to be good at and make them even better.”

Videos shot and edited by: Mark Broome - Interview: Melanie Dinjaski

https://ift.tt/2NEvLk9
//

No comments:

Post a Comment