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Name: Terry Antonis
Position: Central Midfielder
Club: Sydney FC
“The guy who kicked Hazard three times in 10 minutes really impressed me. I like it because there are no friendlies. I don’t like the word friendly match. So that young boy in midfield that was really aggressive and playing for a result, impresses me.”
These are the words of Jose Mourinho in the wake of Chelsea’s recently friendly match against Sydney FC. The player who caught his eye? Terry Antonis.
You will find few 21 year-old footballers who have endured as many set-backs in their career as the Australia international has.
His bad luck began at 14 years-old, when a move to Everton broke down because of FIFA’s rules about overseas transfers for players under the age of 18.
Antonis overcame that disappointment to sign a professional contract with Sydney FC in 2010, becoming the club’s youngest ever debutant at 16.
Five years later and much has transpired since, with another failed European move bookmarking a difficult period in the midfielder’s career.
Parma agreed to pay $300,000 for his services back in 2013, only for the Serie A side to bizarrely fail to contact Sydney and confirm the move before the close of the transfer window. No transfer certificate was issued and Antonis again was forced to remain in Australia.
It might be that the Italian club had second thoughts, given Antonis’ previous problems with injuries: long lay-offs have been common in his short career, often scuppering his chances of breaking into the Australian national team.
However, the past two seasons with Sydney FC have highlighted his best qualities: he has developed into one of the club’s biggest assets and was rewarded by Australia coach Ange Postecoglou with a place in the 2015 Asian Cup squad.
Most effective when he plays at the base of midfield, the two-footed Antonis is an effective distributor of the ball, accurate with both long and short passing.
He is particularly adept at transitioning his team from defence to attack, by virtue of his vision and ability to beat markers with short bursts of speed. His natural sense of positioning and movement show maturity beyond his years.
With consecutive seasons of regular football under his belt – and having scored a handful of sumptuous goals along the way – Antonis is beginning to hit top form and overcome the early setbacks that would have derailed a less resilient individual.
Written by Chris Paraskevas
Follow Chris on Twitter @Cparaskevas
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