Theoklitos feeling sharp for 2011/12 Grand Final

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In a matter of days Brisbane Roar will aim to become the first team in the Hyundai A-League to win two consecutive Grand Finals. One man who has been a central figure for Brisbane is goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos. 

Credit: Brisbane Roar

Into his fourth Hyundai A-League Grand Final, ahead of Orange Sunday II as Roar fans have dubbed it, a win over Perth Glory could see Theoklitos crowned the most successful goalkeeper to ever play in the domestic competition.


“It’s something I’m very proud of; being the first player to win three Grand Finals and now participating in my fourth,” Theoklitos said after a jovial recovery session at Yeronga on Wednesday.



“I just love it. As a footballer that’s what you want to do. You want to play these big Grand Finals with big crowds. And there’s no better feeling than playing in front of our home fans, on a home pitch, in a sea of orange,” he beamed.

In a professional career that has spanned almost 15 years including stints in the NSL and starts with Blackpool and Norwich City in England, it’s in the Hyundai A-League that this well-travelled footballer has found stability and really made a name for himself.

Since joining the Hyundai A-League in 2005 with Melbourne Victory, Theoklitos has won three Premierships and three Championships in just six seasons. Topped off with three gongs for A-League Goalkeeper of the Year, the outstanding achievements of this Melbourne native make him arguably the competition’s best ever.

Credit: Brisbane Roar
But at 31 (which in goalkeeper age is only about 23) Theoklitos still has plenty of time to add a few more trophies to the cabinet. And that’s just what he intends to do on Sunday.

As a member of Brisbane Roar’s leadership group, the goalkeeper has relished his role as a mentor within the squad. That leadership will be invaluable come the weekend.

“I’ll have a chat to a few of the younger boys and talk to them about my experiences that I’ve had in Grand Finals,” he said.

“But winning it last time, a lot of the guys were there, so they know what it takes to win one and are familiar with the build up.”

Unfortunately for the Roar, an unwanted part of that build up has been the whispered departure of head coach Ange Postecoglou. Speculation in recent weeks has dominated headlines, as a bidding war between Melbourne Victory and the Bakrie Group reportedly vie for the services of the coach who brought disciplined possession football back to the fore in Australia.

Aware of the disputed move south, Theoklitos admitted that Postecoglou has been integral to the club’s positive performance in the last few years. But he was reservedly confident that a new head coach wouldn’t want to change things too much.

“If Ange was to move on, it depends who comes in. They might have a different philosophy,” he said

“Ange hasn’t left yet, but I’d like to think what we’re doing has worked for us in the past two years. So if someone was to come in I’m sure they’ll look at the success we’ve had and why we’ve achieved so much.”

Under Postecoglou Brisbane’s achievements have been plentiful indeed. Replacing Frank Farina as head coach in 2009, Postecoglou rebuilt a squad within less than a year before lifting the Championship trophy in the 2010/2011 season. The only smear during his tenure has been the team’s disappointing run in the AFC Asian Champion’s League this year. Their much-hyped debut in the Asian competition has proven to be a steep learning curve for the orange-clad players.

However after a narrow 2-1 loss on Tuesday night Theoklitos said the team still love the opportunity of playing internationally. Despite being effectively ruled out of progressing to the next stage, Theoklitos took pride in their most recent performances.

Credit: Brisbane Roar

“Obviously we lost [on Tuesday] but in terms of our performance, we played quite well and created quite a few chances,” he said.

“Everyone’s pumped and ready and we’ve pulled up well [physically] which is very important.”
After the game Postecoglou laughed off suggestions that the loss would adversely affect his team’s mindset, and Theoklitos agrees. He says their attention has moved quickly towards the Championship decider.
“I think it’s [the ACL] been ideal preparation,” Theoklitos explained.

“We’re confident going into the game. Our form has been very good of late.”

Undeterred by the challenge that awaits including question marks over how the rugged Suncorp pitch will hold up, and the prospect of facing one of the league’s most lethal strikers in Perth Glory’s Shane Smeltz, Theoklitos is adamant he and the team are more than ready for what comes their way on Sunday.

“It’s great to play against guys like Shane. He’s a very good striker,” Theoklitos said.

“But I feel really on top of my game. I’m feeling sharp.

“Nothing really changes. We still want to play the same brand of football as that’s what has led us to the Grand Final. So we’ll just play our regular style.”

And if it goes to penalties? Can last season’s game-winning goalkeeper do it all again?

“Hopefully for us it doesn’t go down that road! But having said that, if it goes down to penalties, as long as we’re on the right end of the result, I don’t mind,” Theoklitos chuckled.

“It’s all really exciting and I really can’t wait!”
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