Monday Story: Luke Brattan

From scoring a Premiership-clinching screamer to assisting a Grand Final-winning goal, Sydney FC midfielder Luke Brattan is one for the big occasion.

The 32-year-old veteran, who is set to face former club Brisbane Roar this Saturday at Allianz Stadium, sealed the Isuzu UTE A-League Premiership in style for the Queensland outfit in 2014.

Starting his career at Brisbane in 2009, Brattan’s development excelled at the Roar – with former Socceroos Head Coach Ange Postecoglou playing a significant role.

He’s yelling at you because he cares about you

Luke Brattan

“Ange yelled at me every day for two years!” Brattan said. “And after a while I went up to one of the senior boys and said, ‘What do you think I do?’ And he said, ‘Go up and talk to him.’ And obviously going up to talk to Ange as a kid is not the greatest experience! Because he demands that respect … I’ll never forget it ever.

“I said ‘Look, I just want to know what I can do to make you stop yelling at me?’ And he stopped me and he goes, ‘Once I stop yelling at you, that’s when you should be worried, because it means I don’t care about you.’

20-year-old Brattan in action for Brisbane against Sydney FC

“I was in shock … I didn’t think of it like that. The more you think about it, he’s yelling at you because he cares about you. He expects more, you know, he knows you can do better, so I’ve said that to the young boys here.

“They’re all capable of doing a lot and I’m trying to bring that out of them. It’s never a personal attack on the young boys and players, it’s part of the game. It’s helped me grow as a person off the pitch and as a player on the pitch.”

A leader on and off the field for Steve Corica’s side, Brattan has bossed the middle of the park for Sydney FC since joining the club in 2019 and is renowned for being one of the best midfielders in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The deep-lying playmaker – who was born in Hull, England where his father Gary played for Hull City – boasts an 86.4 per cent pass completion rate and has made 16 key passes this season (as of 21 January) – demonstrating his expert vision amongst the midfield chaos.

And like his heroics for the Roar in 2014, Brattan once again utilised his visualisation of the game with a trophy on the line – this time for Sydney FC in the 2020 A-League Grand Final.

“The ball was alright!” said a humble Brattan. “Buster [Rhyan Grant], he made a great run and it was a great finish.

“Obviously my first year here winning the double and with Sydney FC being so successful in the past and to come and to add to that, seeing everything up on the walls, it’s special.”

Champions Wall at Sydney FC’s training ground

“My first year we were pretty good as well, we didn’t lose many games and the Grand Final was a good end to that. I had a pretty rough year off the pitch with some family stuff and the boys on the pitch were great, you know, kept me distracted, it kept my mind off it.”

With a turbulent time off the field motivating Brattan on the pitch, the defensive midfielder played a key role in the Sky Blues’ double-winning season in 2019/20 – making 47 interceptions and winning 39 tackles to earn the club’s Player of the Year award.

The defensive midfielder was also named in the PFA Team of the Season for his stellar campaign – a feat which he has achieved four times between 2013-2021 – claiming the honour once at Brisbane Roar, once at Melbourne City and twice at Sydney FC.

Brattan’s consistent run of form would eventually be halted however, with the midfielder suffering a horror ACL tear in the FFA Cup against Sydney Olympic in November 2021.

“It was the first serious injury of my career,” Brattan said. “I used that ten months to step away from the game. I’ve played in the league for thirteen years and hadn’t had a break so mentally and physically, I think taking any positive out of it, it came at a good time.

Brattan after ACL reconstruction

“I’m not a big gym guy, so I got to go to the gym for a good nine, ten months and work on my body and spend time with my kids as well.

“You know, having a long term injury in a team sport, it’s pretty tough. A big thing about being in a team sport is the banter and the camaraderie and the away trips and the stories, the friendships you develop … to have that for thirteen years straight and then to have it taken away, it was tough and at times I was in a pretty dark place.

“I couldn’t have gone through that injury period without my partner and my two girls at home, they were everything for me. My partner was great, she was always there to cheer me up, always there to talk about it as well.”

Mentally strong during ACL rehabilitation, Brattan took to gaming on “Call of Duty” to get through the tough days – teaming up with Sydney FC’s Paulo Retre, Adelaide United’s Joe Gauci and Melbourne City’s Harrison Delbridge.

“If I don’t mention them they’ll be a bit annoyed!” said Brattan. “We had a good crew there, every day I was icing my leg for a good two or three hours and it was good to have them there.

“We definitely play still and he’s [Paulo Retre] far better than me! I know my role in the team, my role in the team is to RES [revive] people and to not let Pauli die!

“It’s mainly me, Pauli and Joe from Adelaide but when we can we’ll play with Bella [Tom Heward-Belle]. I still play every day pretty much, still ice my knee every day so I jump on when I’m icing and Pauli – he’s definitely the GOAT!”

Brattan with long hair in his earlier Sydney FC days

Perhaps more decorated on the football pitch than on Call of Duty, Brattan is eager to continue his consistent minutes for the Sky Blues this season after returning from ACL injury against Melbourne Victory last October.

And with four A-League Championships, three Premierships and one FFA Cup under the veteran’s belt, there is no doubt that Brattan will continue to boss the Sydney FC midfield.