Massimo Murdocca has exceeded all his expectations since debuting for Brisbane Roar.
As Massimo Murdocca, the only man remaining from the inaugural Brisbane Roar playing list, prepares to break the club’s all-time appearances record, he says the journey from the first days of the Hyundai A-League has exceeded all expectations.
At 20, Murdocca tied his faith and football hopes to Brisbane and the A-League. With 59 games of NSL experience, having debuted at 16, he took a leap of faith and moved north from a family-orientated Melbourne life to the Sunshine State, for a competition that some were expecting to fail.
Fast forward to the current day and the fan-favourite midfielder is a true veteran of the Australian football scene, set to overtake Matt McKay’s Roar appearances tally when he plays his 132nd A-League game on Saturday.
Reflecting from a high point in a professional career that has spanned more than a decade, Murdocca has a mountain of highlights and memories.
Amongst his greatest sources of pride through his career he lists his decision to roll the dice and move interstate, the Roar’s growth into league king-pins and his own upcoming milestone of longevity.
“(Moving to Brisbane) was the first time I moved out of home. As a young Italian boy, it’s a big move away from Mum and Dad and it was definitely tougher than I expected. They were the two people that meant everything to me,” he said.
“I had to make quick decisions and go with the flow. I don’t regret for one minute making the move. It was a big decision and I’m glad to have made it.”
“I’m about to get the record for most appearances and I’m proud of the achievement. Looking back over all that time. I can’t see myself playing for another club.”
“Thing can always change and the important thing is if it’s still good for me and still good for the club, but I want to be here for the long haul. If I can end my career here that’s great. This club has been amazing for me.”
“We’re proud of what we’ve done here. When we travel as a team, we’re proud of the Brisbane emblem. Before people would be asking what sport we were and now ‘it’s the Roar.”
The success and development of the Roar has come only with the A-League’s continued growth.
A lifetime’s experience of the traditional Australian aversion to the round-ball game had Murdocca equally as sceptical as excited when he signed to the competition, but he admits the league has surpassed expectations.
“With the NSL defunct, it was a sad time for Australian football; everybody thought the game was going down,” said Murdocca.
“At the start of the A-League, I was excited, but I also thought it was our last shot and it could go as quickly as the NSL did.”
“There was fear in everyone’s mind, so it’s great to see it progress to the point where I think it’s a top three national comp along with AFL and rugby. It’s survived and it’s getting bigger.”
“After the first season, you could see there was room for improvement in certain areas. There were places where the club and league lacked a little bit of professionalism.”
“But to see it progress to where it is now, and with what’s happened at the Roar in the last two years, winning the competition and becoming the first club with international owners, the league’s improved and there’s more stability.”
Negotiating a series of serious leg injuries along the way, Murdocca’s commitment been met with the Roar’s support at every step. In 2005 he was signed by Miron Bleiberg as an energetic midfield lynchpin and in 2011-12 he remains just that.
Current coach Ange Postecoglou, who Murdocca first met at 15, has enormous belief in the relentless midfielder, publicly and continually praising his contribution to the side’s on-field performance, and paying enormous credit to his intangible off-field contributions to the team dynamic and chemistry.
While Matt McKay led the Roar to their first silverware, Murdocca, his midfield partner for so many seasons, has been equally influential in building the club ethos and identity, and few would begrudge his ascension to the mantle of most-capped Roar player.