‘I think they even had fighter jets flying over the hotel’: Ingham reflects on World Cup experience

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It’s been a turbulent season for Brisbane Roar, their on-field potential never reflected on the ladder or in match-day results.

On a positive note, this has allowed numerous youth-team graduates to make their way into the first team – Dane Ingham chief among them.

A versatile player who can line up anywhere on the right flank, Ingham is a native of Lismore, a small town located in New South Wales’ Northern Rivers region.

Dane was encouraged into football at an early age by his older brother Jai, who currently plays as a right winger for Melbourne Victory.

“Originally, I didn’t know if I was going to play football. My brother started playing and then I think just from that – him playing and then going to a lot of his games… I started playing and just fell in love with it,” he said.

“[Jai] would push me to be better. I think he was 16 and I was 10, and he’d be crossing the ball as hard as he could at my head. He got me to a certain point where he knew he could push me.

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“[In Lismore] there’s not really much football, but they do have a good program for young players down there that do want to take that step to the next level.

“For us to play in that program (Football Far North Coast’s Junior Premier League team) we got to challenge ourselves against much better players in the metropolitan area.”

Ingham’s rise continued from there. Only 15, he moved to Brisbane with his brother, turning out for NPL Queensland side Olympic FC before joining Brisbane Roar’s youth team.

International selectors came calling too, both Jai and Dane representing New Zealand at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, and in a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Peru.

International football has been eye-opening for Ingham.

“It was a crazy experience playing Ronaldo, Quaresma, Nani. Even the Mexican team, they had some class players,” he said.

“Just to see the way they play football – and even travelling to Peru for that World Cup qualifier. To see the environment of a country that really supports football is crazy.

“They were setting off fireworks underneath our hotel the night before the game to try and wake us up. I think they even had fighter jets flying over the hotel.

“Just to see how much passion and effort they put into their football was crazy to witness.”

Experiences such as this have pushed Ingham to where he is now, earning his place as Roar first-team regular.

Starting his career as a winger, Ingham was converted into a makeshift right back under former head coach John Aloisi.

It wasn’t an easy transition, but it’s paid dividends – Ingham’s versatility making him an invaluable member of Brisbane’s squad.

“They (Brisbane Roar) really helped me hone my skills in defence. I was a bit unsure and it was difficult at the start to transition in from being an attacking player,” said Ingham.

“As long as I’m on the pitch playing with the boys, I’m happy to play anywhere and do a job.

“When the team’s struggling it’s hard, but every time I’m out there I’m doing my best to try and help the team get the win.”

All images credited to Paul Smith 

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Ben Paynter
Loves Brisbane. Loves a pint. Loves a 'Kevin Muscat Bad Tackle' YouTube compilation.