When Alex Brosque first wore the colours of Marconi-Fairfield during the 2001-2002 N.S.L. season, he exuded a sense of anticipation and excitement which laid the foundations for a successful professional football career.
The striker with the sweet left foot, deft touch and genuine pace was always bound for glory. His goal scoring record at professional level of almost one goal in every three games was a testimony to his ability in the front third of the field, even though he played many games as a wide player.
Despite a satisfying career overseas in Japan and the Middle East, Brosque was content to ply much of his trade in Australia where he became a cult figure at Sydney F.C.
However, Brosque was more than just a footballer because he has always been a great ambassador for the game and on retirement. It was a natural progression for him to enter the media ranks.
In this interview with Roger Sleeman, Alex Brosque discusses his feelings about life after football as he reflects on his playing career, expresses his opinions on the current state of the game and his current role in the public eye as part of the football media ranks.
Roger Sleeman: Looking back on your playing career, what is the feeling of life after football?
Alex Brosque: Fortunately, everything I hoped it would be.
When your career ends, there’s always that uncertainty about what your next step will be and whether you can transition smoothly.
I spoke to a lot of ex players in my last years who advised me to play as long as possible because they said when you retire, it’s not a happy decision.
Three years on, I’ve had more time to spend with my family because travelling nationally and playing overseas take its toll in a long playing career.
Also, I don’t miss the daily grind when your body takes three to four days to recover after playing.
However, I’m very lucky to be involved with the media which has continued my connection with the game.
R.S. Do you believe you achieved enough in your playing career?
A.B. It’s all about perspective and when I was growing up, I was never tipped to be a star.
I played football because I loved it and enjoyed being with my mates.
Things progressed slowly for me and what I achieved was more than what I could’ve imagined as a young kid.
In my first years of senior football, there was hype in one newspaper article that I was the next Harry Kewell.
But I was different to Harry and my personality wasn’t about being the best player at the biggest club.
That characteristic just wasn’t in me.
R.S. So what is that magical something which defines success at the highest level?
A.B. It’s the mental part, not just your technique and work rate.
It’s whether you have that drive and passion to succeeed like a Craig Johnston.
Johnston had the determination to achieve at all costs.
This mental strength was also evident in succeeding generations with players like Jim Patikas and David Mitchell.
Currently, the mental strength of young players isn’t the same because it’s all too easy for them. Previously, parents made big sacrifices for their sons to succeed in football so we made sure we succeeded to justify their investment in us.
R.S. Can you relate your experience when you first went overseas in 2004?
A.B. Off the back of the 2003 World Youth Cup in which I performed well, an agent approached me to go to Feyenoord.
The plan was always to place me on loan because I was only twenty and they would’ve had to pay me a minimum wage.
I had a trial at Westerloo in Belgium and when they were happy with me, I signed.
At the time, the NSL was dying ,and the A-League hadn’t commenced, so the only option was to go overseas.
However, I dreaded leaving my family in Australia.
It’s just my personality and I had no regrets leaving Westerloo after one season to return to play in the A-League with Brisbane Roar.
R.S. You established your name in Sydney FC folklore from 2006-2011. What are you memories of that first stint?
A.B. Terry Butcher was the coach in the first year and his coaching style was typically English.
His methods concentrated on a lot of sessions with lots of drills.
He was criticised in many quarters but I found him to be a great guy with obviously an amazing football pedigree.
I didn’t do well in the first season and only scored five goals, although I had come in as a big signing. That was tough for me.
However, I improved my mental attitude which helped me immensely in the following season.
In that five year stint, I learned much about the game from the different coaches, Terry Butcher, Branko Culina, John Kosmina and Vitezslav Lavika
Lavika particularly was a pleasure to play under with his outstanding knowledge and the fact he was so calm and never raised his voice.
Amongst my team-mates, John Aloisi and Tony Popovic were amazing to play with.
R.S. There was some controversy in your move to Japan with Shimizu S Pulse for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. What were the circumstances surrounding this and what was life like in Japan?
A.B. At the time I still had a contract with Sydney F.C. and a court case ensued.
Eventually, Sydney FC released me and I promised Chairman, Scott Barlow, I would return to the club one day.
Japan has a real football culture and it ranks as one of the best places I’ve played in.
The football was a high standard and the players had great technique and speed of thought whereas we often are just quick and strong in Australia.
Going to training every day was a pleasure and playing with legends of the class of Shinji Ono and Takahara was something else. All players, whether defenders or attackers were technically proficient.
The fans took to me when I ssored a penalty in an early match and although the stadium was only small with a capacity of 15,000, it was always a great atmosphere.
Ironically, my time in Japan brought me to the attention of the Middle East and I was signed by Al Ain in 2012.
This decision was an important financial consideration for my family but it also meant I bypassed the chance to still compete for a spot in the Socceroo squad for the 2014 Brazil World Cup.
The rest is history as I returned to Sydney F.C. in 2014 to see out my career until 2019.
When you have team-mates in the class of Juninho, Steve Corica, Clint Bolton and Terry McFlynn and coaching staff at the level of Graham Arnold and Andrew Clarke, life is made much easier.
R.S. What is your opinion of the signing of Jack Rodwell, Joe Lolley and Robert Mak at Sydney F.C.
A.B. Jack Rodwell if fully fit can be a great asset to Sydney F.C.
I like his aggression and he can make a difference as a leader in the middle of the park as Luke Brattan did before his serious injury.
In reference to Lolley, take the case of Besart Berisha who was a relative unknown before he came to the A-League.
Adam le Fondre has proven what he can do and I believe Lolley can score goals in a competition where he’ll be playing only once a week for the most part.
I’ve seen him score some spectacular goals from long range in the UK.
Robert Mak has a wonderful pedigree and he should be an important part of the squad this season.
However, now that Bobo has retired, I would like to see Patrick Wood get more game time.
R.S. Are you enjoying your time in the media and is the game benefiting from theTen/Paramount coverage?
A.B. Originally, when Fox Sports approached met to become an analyst, I did it to stay in the game and it developed into more regular work.
Certainly, we need more media like other codes with an emphasis on player profiles.
When I look at the Paramount/Ten Coverage investment, it would be ideal to see them grow the coverage over their five year contract.
The fans need more information and larger coverage because the print media is almost non existent.
Critically, there has to be more discussion round the game and former players need to be more than just a face.
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