by Jeremy Walker
From growing up a Sydney FC supporter to donning the Sky Blues shirt with his childhood idols, Jake Girdwood-Reich is loving life at the harbourside club.
The 18-year-old midfielder, who is set to feature in the matchday squad against Perth Glory this Sunday, has attended Sydney FC games since the age of four – idolising the likes of Rhyan Grant, Luke Brattan and Brandon O’Neill.
And after progressing through the club’s youth academy from 2017, the youngster would go on to earn his first senior start against Western United a fortnight ago at Moore Park.
‘I couldn’t quite imagine what I was doing there!’ – Jake Girdwood-Reich
“It was amazing,” said Girdwood-Reich, “I found out a couple days before the game that I was starting and I had to prepare myself mentally.
“When I was going out on the field and the whistle was about to go, I was looking around and I couldn’t quite imagine what I was doing there!
“I was about four years old watching Rhyan Grant play and I was like, ‘Wow! I’m a bit shocked.’ So obviously it was a privilege to start my first game and hopefully there’s many more to come.”
Growing up in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, Girdwood-Reich attended Clovelly Public School –playing football alongside Sydney FC Women’s star Charlie Rule.
The midfielder also enjoyed an academy stint at St Johnstone in Scotland back in 2014, relishing his “professional” youth team experience in the UK.
“I was there for about six months,” Girdwood-Reich explained. “My Mum is a university teacher and she had to go over there. So I had to move over but I wasn’t really there for football until I was just kicking the ball around at a local park.
“My Dad saw this team and he really wanted me to keep my football up, so he spoke to a guy from St Johnstone and luckily enough he knew the team I was playing for in Australia, Sydney Olympic.
“Then one morning I went down to a trial and it was a proper game against Dundee. I did really well and they said I could stay for the rest of the pre-season over there.
“It was a Scottish Premier League side so obviously it was very professional. Before a game we got on a team bus and travelled together and at such a young age to play in another country, it was a great experience for me to come back and use that to go forward with my career.”
Girdwood-Reich undoubtedly boasts a wealth of experience at youth level, also representing the Australian Joeys and Young Socceroos.
But the midfielder is now setting his sights on more senior action, looking to gain consistent minutes in Steve Corica’s Sydney FC first team.
“Obviously I’m focusing on how I can improve every day,” said Girdwood-Reich. “But also I don’t really care if I’m 18, I still want to play games.
“I’ll try my best to try and fight for a spot because I think anyone that plays football wants to play football games, so that’ll be my goal.
“I’m just going to work hard every day and see what happens.”
You can catch Jake Girdwood-Reich in action this weekend at Allianz Stadium when Perth Glory come to town.
Sydney FC v Perth Glory
Isuzu UTE A-League Round 24
Sunday 16th April 2023
Allianz Stadium, Sydney, NSW
Kick Off: 3pm AEST
Gates Open: 2pm AEST
Broadcast Live: Paramount+ & 10Bold
Tickets: Click Here