Things don’t always go the way you want them to in life and that’s just the same in football as new Central Coast Mariners striker Dylan Macallister found out back in the lead up to the Athens Olympic Games more than four years ago.
Macallister was the main striker for the Australian U23 team in the qualifiers but was not given a place in the Olympic squad, however he has put that all behind him to play some fantastic football in Europe and is now back home and aiming high with the Mariners.
Dylan is keen to get straight back into competitive action after not being a part of full competitive football for quite some time and is ready to take on the new and improved Australian league head on.
“It’s been about 6 months since I played a full competitive match so I’m a bit rusty in that regard, but I’ve been working hard. I’ve had a few injuries which have knocked me back but I’m very hungry to play,” he told tribalfootball.com.
The 26-year old hasn’t witnessed much of the A-League first hand but experienced Australian football years ago when he was a part of the National Soccer League and he is also glad to be back close to where he grew up.
“Well I was playing in the now-defunct NSL (National Soccer League) but then I took an opportunity to play in Europe but now I’m back I’m more than happy because the A-League is of such a high standard and is only moving forward.
“I played under Lawrie (Mariners coach Lawrie McKinna) at Northern Spirit and I played with a lot of the boys and geographically it’s the closest place for me. It was just perfect timing really, to come straight back and be part of the Mariners.”
Four years spent playing in Norway gave Macallister a wealth of experience which he now hopes to pass on to the youth of the Mariners squad with the aim of improving the talent at the club.
“With the set up here, the teams are to have a set amount of players under the age of 20 and with the Youth League its great experience for young players.
“It’s good for them because there are a few boys who have European experience which is invaluable because the clubs over there are so professional, so you come back with great experiences.
“All you can do is just set a high standard for yourself and hope the younger guys follow your lead. We haven’t finalised our youth team yet so we have a lot of young guys coming and going, so you’ve just got to introduce yourself and set a good example.”
Dylan found himself in Norway after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games qualifiers when he was left out of the final Olyroos squad but made himself at home instantly and adapted quickly to Norwegian football.
“At the time I was in the Olympic qualifying squad and was the leading goal scorer in the qualifying stages and there were some agents there from Norway. The Norwegian style of football is similar to Australia’s in that it’s more physical and fast and a few teams needed a target man.
“I first went to Brann (Norwegian club SK Brann) and felt at home. It is a great city and I enjoyed my time there. A Scottish player, Robbie Winters, sort of helped me along. He was a striker as well as being a bit older and we both spoke English so he was good for my development.”
Being left out of the Olympics was a tough time for Dylan but he has moved on with his career and is now just looking to play consistent first team football in order to realise one of his lifelong goals.
“Every footballer faces problems, but for me, I guess I’ve been good with injuries. The hardest would have been missing out on the final squad for the Athens Olympics. I worked hard for two and a half years only to be left out because an over-age player was preferred but I just use that as motivation now.
“I ultimately want to win a Socceroo cap but for now I’ve just got take everything on board and play well.”
And with a Mariners strike force that boasts Sasho Petrovski, Matt Simon and Nick Mrdja, he is going to have to be on top of his game.
“We all have something different to offer and so far I haven’t been fully fit, neither has Nick (Mrdja). Matt Simon is in good shape, coming back from the Olympics. We just have to make Lawrie’s job very difficult by all playing well.
“I believe I can bring something different to the team, cement a spot and hopefully knock in a few goals.”