Brisbane Roar’s resilient custodian Michael Theoklitos feels no added pressure ahead of Saturday night’s Hyundai A-League first leg semi-final against Central Coast Mariners, saying years plying his trade as a goalkeeper have prepared him well for any high-pressure situation.
Since returning to Australia last year after 12 months abroad in England-s League One with Norwich City, Theoklitos has been one of the strongest performers within Brisbane Roar-s premiership-winning side.
The newly-turned 30-year-old has featured in every single one of the team-s fixtures this year and finished the season with the highest amount of clean sheets of any goalkeeper in the league -12.
Not daunted by the tough prospect of Saturday night-s fixture, Theoklitos said he would relish in the challenge of trying to keep the in-form Mariners scoreless.
“Being a goalkeeper, it-s one of those positions that if you make a mistake, it-s going to be a goal so there-s always that added pressure,” he said.
“Personally, I don-t see it that way, I love playing in goals and I thrive in pressure situations.”
Theoklitos is no stranger to finals football, having already played in three Hyundai A-League finals series with former club Melbourne Victory and lifting the trophy on two occasions.
The two-time goalkeeper of the year is easily one of the more experienced players within Ange Postecoglou-s squad having already played over 100 Hyundai A-League matches over his career and has named this year-s run of form as one of his most enjoyable to date.
“I-ve been fortunate to be involved with some successful teams but in terms of win-loss ratio, to go through a season only losing one game, it would have to be the best I-ve played in definitely,” he said.
His credentials received a further boost earlier in the week when he was named as the goalkeeper in the Professional Footballers Association-s Team of the Year and while Theoklitos was pleased with the accolade, he was more concerned with his team-s performance against the Central Coast.
“Being a goalkeeper, you always take pride in that but in saying that, the boys in front of me have been tremendous all year around so hopefully we can take that momentum going into finals,” he said.
In light of the club-s success so far this season, Theoklitos praised the Brisbane Roar coaching staff for making minimal changes in the lead-up to Saturday-s game.
The 16-man squad will depart Brisbane for Gosford tomorrow morning and before making the most out of a familiarisation session at Bluetongue Stadium in the afternoon.
“We-ve trained pretty much the same, we-ve tried to keep as much as we can the same,” Theoklitos said.
“Obviously, it-s finals football now and there will be a few butterflies but we are all looking forward to getting out there.
“We know it-s going to be a tough game against Central Coast, but one we are looking forward to.”