In just the short few months he’s spent in the Queensland capital, Brisbane Roar striker Nick Fitzgerald has already made a name for himself.
In just the short few months he-s spent in the Queensland capital, Brisbane Roar striker Nick Fitzgerald has already made a name for himself.
The most consistent performer in the club-s National Youth League side, Fitzgerald was thrown into the deep end when given a Hyundai A-League start against Melbourne Heart back in December and has not disappointed as a part of Brisbane-s attacking force.
Here, Fitzgerald talks about his football career so far, which Brisbane Roar player has helped him through the switch from Central Coast Mariners and which Arsenal great was his inspiration as a youngster.
Brisbaneroar.com.au caught up with Fitzgerald after training on Thursday morning to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.
1. What has your football career held for you so far? When did you start playing football and how did you end up at Brisbane Roar?
I started off just kicking a ball in the backyard with my dad. I was pretty young, probably only about three years old, just kicking the ball around as soon as I could walk. I used to always go watch my dad play football and always loved it and just played it for the fun of it. Dad played at the local club, it was always a fun day and I-ve always enjoyed the football environment. I was always cheering for Dad and now he hardly ever misses one of my games, which is good. I started off at Castle Hill playing at club level for a while and then I eventually played at Blacktown for about five or six years before I found myself at the Mariners. In the youth league off season, I also went and played for Bundaberg in the Queensland State League. It was pretty good, a great experience and I still keep in contact with a lot of the boys from there. I was in contact with the Roar during last season and I was obviously attracted to their style of play and they eventually gave me a trial and it all happened from there. Ange was great to me. He gave me not just a two-week trial when you hardly get time to settle but a lot of time to show what I can do. He put faith in me and I appreciate him for doing that. I got game time, I got to gel with the boys and got to know the area and settle.
2. Coming from Central Coast Mariners, what do you see as the main differences in the playing styles, the culture and environment of both clubs?
There is not a lot of difference really. The clubs are both really similar in that they-ll do anything to win, they-re good teams and everyone gets along, so similar in that sense. It was just the playing style here in Brisbane that attracted me a little bit more with all the movement and whatnot. When I first came up here, everyone here really made me feel comfortable. Erik Paartalu in particular has been really good for me, he came in, took me aside and let me settle in and lets me know what I-m doing good and what I-m not doing right. Every young player needs someone like that to push them and keep them going. It was hard making the move up here because my family are in Sydney, which is obviously much closer, but I want to get something out of my career and I want to play with these kind of players in this style so there was no other club I wanted to be at.
3. How much of a step up is the A-League from the Youth League? Has it been hard to adapt?
It was pretty hard because it was a big step up. Mentally, you-ve just got to treat it the same and have confidence in yourself and relax. If you make a mistake, don-t put your head down, keep it up and work hard. The biggest step up is that you always have to be mentally aware that you could be getting the ball at any time and any stage so you-ve got to be mentally aware the whole time.
4. What was going through your mind when Ange told you that you would start against Melbourne Heart at Suncorp Stadium? Was it difficult having such short notice?
I was pretty nervous as you could tell, for the first ten minutes I was pretty shaky! What I didn-t realise is that as a footballer, you-ve got to be aware that you could be playing at any time. Anything can happen so you-ve got to be aware of that. I had no idea whatsoever. I had my boots and I was excited because I thought I was just warming up. So I turned up early, I was excited thinking ‘I-m warming up with the boys today- before Ange pulls me aside and said ‘you-re actually starting tonight-. I couldn-t even call my mum and dad, we had our team talk and had to knuckle down and get ready for the game so I didn-t get a chance. They called me after the game and said ‘thanks for letting us know!- but I really couldn-t do much.
5. When you were young, who was your football idol and now who are your favourite players to watch?
I always watched the Socceroos and Arsenal in particular. My football hero was Dennis Bergkamp. When I was younger I had lighter blonde hair so I used to kind of mimick the way he used to play. I used to love his style of play and the goals he scored. There was this one he scored, it was like a back heel around a player and I don-t know how many times I-ve tried to do that in the past ten years. I could never do it, he was just unreal. I still watch a lot of international football, I like the Socceroos and the whole starting eleven I can sit down and watch. In the A-League, I like Archie Thompson. I love the way he moves and the skills he-s got, he-s a pleasure to watch. At training, watching Ezza [Erik Paartalu], Thomas Broich and Shane Stefanutto, the way they apply themselves at training and their professionalism is unbelievable. It-s great for all of us young boys here trying to push for a spot. I don-t think there is an overseas player I-m too much like, I try to do my own thing but I-ve been told I look like [Andrei] Arshavin from Arsenal. He-s pretty short too so I guess you can say I look like him.
6. What are your favourite things to do in and around Brisbane since you-ve been here? What other hobbies do you have off the field?
I like coffee way too much. I like anything really – lattes, cappuccinos, short black sometimes. I go to Sip Café in Teneriffe. It-s a great spot, I recommend it. I also love the beach, Coolangatta is awesome. I like music too. Can-t play, wish I could but I can-t so just listening. I like everything really, I-m not fussy with my music.