Adelaide United FC midfielder Mathew Leckie has only made two senior appearances, but The Reds’ newest cult hero is already making waves in the Hyundai A-League following his late goal against North Queensland Fury.
Coming on as a late substitute in Townsville last Sunday, the 18 year old Melbourne born talent produced a superb individual effort against a tiring Fury defence, his composure and skill having the competition sitting up and taking notice.
Since arriving in Adelaide just three weeks ago, Leckie has played a total of 18 minutes in his two senior appearances, but it was his three against the Fury that has got people, including United Coach Aurelio Vidmar, talking about the promising future ahead, and suggesting he has similar attributes to that of Reds captain Travis Dodd.
“Someone described him as a mini Travis and I probably agree with that. They’re the positions he likes to play, either high right or high left and with his pace he’s really direct, he’s really courageous as well and that’s one of those qualities…that he finds himself in front of goal very often,” Vidmar stated.
“To have that quality is not something that you find every day.”
A member of the Qantas Next Young Socceroos (Australian U/19’s) squad for the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Under-19 Championships in Vietnam earlier this year, Vidmar sees Leckie, who signed a two year deal with The Reds, as an extremely exciting prospect.
“I thought he was very good. He showed some good signs last week when he came off the bench against Melbourne…he’s got all that speed, he’s certainly got an eye for goal and the way he took his goal was first class so he’ll continue to get some more game time, and hopefully he can develop and flourish into a very good player,” Vidmar said.
“The goal that he took on Sunday night, players play four or five years before they can do something like that, he just had one thing in his mind, which was the goal, and Lloyd (Owusu) made a fantastic run to take away another defender, and he cut back and was really composed.”
A shy and reserved character off the field, a modest Leckie said he was just pleased to be able to contribute and provide a spark for the team.
“I just came into the team hoping I could help the boys out and they’ve welcomed me really well,” Leckie said.
In reflecting on his goal Leckie said, “Mark Rudan just cleared the ball and it was there to get so I took it and as I ran across Viddie was screaming ‘take it take it’. I was looking for Lloydy but he ran off and took a defender with him, so it was just me one on one and I thought I’d have a crack.
“I didn’t know what to do in my celebration…I might have to learn one. I’ll ask Lloydy, he’s pretty good at the celebrations.”
Leckie and The Reds are now preparing to back up the win over the Fury, with another three points in a big public holiday Monday clash against the Newcastle Jets, who are currently on a three game losing run.
But while the Jets’ recent results may not the greatest, with just two points separating first and seventh on the Hyundai A-League table, Vidmar knows The Reds must follow the victory in Townsville with another win at home on Monday.
“They (Newcastle) are going through a bit of a tough trot. They’ve lost three in a row so they’re obviously going to be fired up for this game but we’re just interested in what we’re going to do, we had a good win on the weekend and now it’s about getting a second win in a row,” Vidmar said.
“All of that good work we did last week will mean nothing if we don’t get the three points against Newcastle.”