by Arlo Smithies
From growing up a Sydney FC member to playing in the Asian Champions league for the club he loves, Patrick Yazbek’s rise to the top has been nothing short of spectacular, the young central midfielder reflects on his first year in the Sky Blues first team.
The 20-year-old star burst onto the scene in 2021, making his debut against the Central Coast Mariners and a few weeks later scoring his first goal away at Perth.
Now an ever-present starter for the Sky Blues, Yazbek is living out his father’s dream, and making a name for himself too.
“My dad is a massive football fan, he stays up countless hours watching games.
“He’s been to games around the world, and for me it was because he didn’t have the opportunity to play growing up that made me push myself,” said Yazbek.
“He was born and raised in Lebanon where it’s more about trying to survive.
“They didn’t have much time to worry about football as it was more about doing your job and getting things done.
“Football for me at my early age was me trying to live out his dream.”
Yazbek spent time at the Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney Olympic before joining the Sydney FC Academy when he was 15.
It was here where he discovered his real passion and drive for the sport, as well as starting to believe he could make it at the top level.
“Initially my dad saw potential, but when I hit 15, I decided I was in a position where I am good enough to play here and I wanted to see how far I could take it,” he said.
After New South Wales came out of Covid-19 lockdown, Yazbek signed a professional contract at Sydney FC and hasn’t looked back.
He joined the first team, and quickly after that, cemented his place in the heart of the Sky Blue midfield.
“I remember thinking my role in the first team would just be to train with the squad, get as much experience as I can while training and play with the NPL side for that year; but I haven’t played an NPL game since I signed my contract.”
“It definitely was a bit of a surprise, but I don’t feel that I don’t deserve it, I’ve been working hard for it and trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get.”
Yazbek played against Asia’s best in the AFC Champions league this year, but he insists that the A-league is not lacking behind in quality, even citing Melbourne Victory’s Jake Brimmer as his hardest ever opponent.
“I really enjoyed the ACL experience, on a personal level I thought I played well, it made me realise that we’re not that far off these Asian teams.
“The toughest opponent I’ve faced probably wouldn’t be from the ACL, I’d say it would be Jake Brimmer, he’s always hard to mark.”
Yazbek’s rise has happened quickly, and he attributes getting professional minutes when he was younger to a lot of his success.
“The A-League is the top tier in this country, and for a young player to start playing there at a young age, you’re only going to get better, not worse.
“If you can get in as early as possible and get exposed to as many minutes as possible, it’s going to set you up to perform well and potentially move on from the league at an earlier age.
“As a player you progress a lot more when you’re younger and there’s a massive confidence component of football.
“You see it in teams and players, they might not be playing well and then a small bit of confidence can change everything, so gaining confidence by getting minutes in the A-League is super important for young players.”
Yazbek came into the Sydney FC side after Luke Brattan’s long term injury last season and played as a more defensive midfielder, however, since the return of Luke Brattan he has been able move into a more box-to-box role where he can link defence and attack.
It’s a role in which he is able to model himself off his idols.
“For me I’d say I model myself on Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Joshua Kimmich. They’re all absolutely amazing players.”
Signing a contract and being placed straight into the starting lineup is a nervy experience, but a challenge that Yazbek has adapted to well, now starting to excel as one of the league’s most promising young players.
“There were heaps of nerves, every player has insecurities. When you join the reigning grand finalists it’s a massive leap,” he continued.
“I feel like things are going up and up for me, but I don’t want to dwell on it, I still have a lot to work on in my game and I’m still very far off the top, I’ll just keep working on my goals.”
The midfielder has become an integral member of the Sky Blue squad since making his debut last year and looks to continue his fine form. A force in midfield that any opposition would fear, Patrick Yazbek continues to turn heads. An exciting prospect for Sky Blue fans.
“Let’s see how far I can go.”