by Jeremy Walker
Sky Blues young gun and ‘training DJ’ Patrick Wood is eager to put his stamp on the new Isuzu UTE A-League season as the youngster eyes the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The 20-year-old is relishing the opportunity to be back in pre-season training as he aims to increase his Sydney FC goal tally and make a case for 2024 Olyroos selection – given the U23’s qualify for the 2024 Paris Games.
Previously involved in the Australian youth setup for the U23’s and U20’s, Wood is looking to continue his representation at the national level after scoring on his Olyroos debut last year against Indonesia in an U23’s Asian Cup qualifier.
“It’s probably the biggest honour I’ve ever had to be honest and apart from my A-League goals, it’s probably the best feeling to score a goal for your country,” said Wood.
“Going to the U23’s Asian Cup recently was definitely something I won’t forget for a long time. It was a pretty great experience and the Olympics are on the horizon, that’s my plan. I want to get fit and play well for the club and get selected in that team.”
Recently returning after wrist surgery, Wood is delighted to be back amongst the Sky Blues squad to ensure the boys are in the right mindset around the training ground.
“I DJ down at training and the boys love it,” Wood added. “I put on old stuff, the Aussie classics like Cold Chisel, Jimmy Barnes and also Fleetwood Mac. The boys get around Fleetwood!
“I’m more into all the older classics, for me the older generation music is great.”
With the DJ skills evident at training, the attacker from the Northern Beaches enjoys his time by the ocean away from the game – competing in surf competitions as a youngster.
“It was probably one of the best places to live I reckon because you’re so close to the beach, we were on the beach pretty much all the time,” Wood said.
“I was always down at the beach with me dad and little brothers when I was away from football. Long Reef is where I grew up surfing so I got to do a lot of surfing and a lot of competitions, not big ones, but I was always in the water.
“Other than surfing, I love drinking coffee and trying different coffee shops. There’s a nice place in Brookvale called Barrel One which is pretty cool and I also love the local down at Collaroy to have a good spread.”
Growing up by the beaches, Wood first started playing football at the age of 5 – with the Sydney FC Senior Academy Manager, Jim van Weeren, coaching the youngster during his Manly United days.
“I played for Cromer for a few years, I first joined when I was 5 or so and I was playing with my sister in a mixed team, that’s how I got into it,” the striker added.
“She had a team and I played in the team for a few years and then went to Manly in the U11’s and had two years there and Jimmy [van Weeren] coached me there and then in the Sydney youth teams, so he’s been coaching me forever!”
Since joining the Sydney FC youth academy in 2016 as a 14-year-old, Wood went on to make his first team debut against Shanghai SIPG in the 2020 AFC Champions League – now with 10 goals in 39 appearances for the senior team – mainly scoring from the bench as a substitute.
The young attacker would help the Sky Blues U21’s lift the 2019/20 A-League Youth title, backing that up by winning the 2020 NPL NSW Men’s Golden Boot – netting 11 goals in only 11 matches.
I want to play more first team minutes this year and with the new season hopefully score some more goals
Raring to get more game time in the senior side during the new season, Wood is keen to return to Allianz Stadium where he grew up admiring the electricity of the Cove.
“I’ve been there a few times, I actually watched the Souths vs Roosters game the other week and it was sold out. It was so loud and you feel like you’re on top of the pitch.
“Growing up I did follow rugby league quite a bit as well and I supported the Manly Sea Eagles, but I do love Nathan Cleary at the moment!
“But memories of the Cove are special. They turn out in their numbers every year, even when we were at Kogarah. I remember as a little boy, 11 or 12, going to Allianz with my dad and the Cove was so big, so to get something like that back at Allianz and to play in front of that will be really special.”
With the atmosphere of Allianz fresh in his mind, the young striker is seeking “redemption” in the new Isuzu UTE A-League campaign after last season’s woes – confident in Steve Corica’s revitalised squad.
“There’s something about the group this year and it feels like something special, like our redemption year,” said Wood.
“The pre-season’s been hard this year and it’s just about putting it all together and winning games as we go and yeah, right the wrong of last season.”