It took Joel Chianese longer than even he expected to fall in love with the round ball game.
For most footballers, it was love at first sight the moment they discovered the round ball game. Not so for Sydney FC wunderkid Joel Chianese.
He cried the first time his father tried to introduce him to organised football – and took some convincing to return.
“I used to kick the ball around the backyard when I was young so when I was about five Dad took me up to register for a team and I started crying and said I didn’t want to do it,” Chianese explained with a laugh.
“I didn’t know anyone there and had no friends with me so we came home without registering.
“Dad left it another year and worked on me and by then I loved the idea of playing… I’m glad he didn’t give up after that first try.”
And so are the Sydney FC fans quickly warming to Chianese’s talents.
The 22-year-old midfielder was used in Sydney’s 2011 ACL campaign but was forced to bide his time by coach Vitezslav Lavicka before making his Hyundai A-League debut off the bench in the Sky Blues’ forgettable 5-2 loss to Newcastle in Round 19.
A starting debut followed a week later, with Chianese playing his part in back-to-back wins and contributing a goal in the victory over Adelaide last start.
“Family and friends were asking why I wasn’t playing and why weren’t they making changes when the team didn’t win, but I had to be patient,” he said.
“I kept telling them that they are saying I’m doing well and my chance will come.
“Perhaps it was a good thing that I was made to wait for my chance. The step up from youth to state league to the A-League is big mentally and physically.
“I went from training three times a week to five and then playing a game on top of it.mIt took a while for my body to adjust but now I am getting used to it.”
“Being a local boy, Sydney was the team I supported growing up so to be playing for them now is awesome.”
Youngsters Chianese, Mitchell Mallia and Terry Antonis have breathed new life into a faltering campaign and given Lavicka a nice headache as he welcomes the return of several more established stars.
The kids know their place but will take some shifting.
“I think we bring a bit of energy. We always willing to give 100 percent, we’re keen, we want to impress and we want to keep our spot in the side,” Chianese said of the youth brigade.
“We bring a positive energy and with the experienced guys that are already there, it’s a good blend.”
And after helping the Sky Blues climb back into the top six, Chianese is now daring to dream big.
“I think we can continue to build on this little run (two consecutive wins) and finish reasonably high up,” he declared.
“And we’ve got so much talent in this squad that I think we can give the competition a real shake.”