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Steve Pantelidis eyes second chance with Gold Coast United

Steve Pantelidis has been given a second chance in the A-League and is not about to let it slip. The 25-year old defender admits things had fallen away for him as he become complacent last season whilst at Melbourne Victory after being one of the first players chosen in the line-up in the seasons beforehand.

A loss of motivation, passion and dedication for a small patch of the 2008/09 season caused Pantelidis to slip down the pecking order in Victory coach Ernie Merrick's plans and eventually saw him move on from the club despite winning a second championship title.

The boy from Salesian College in Melbourne thought hard about his future towards the end of the season and knew he needed to change things drastically to get his career back on track.

Fast forward a few months and Pantelidis finds himself on the Gold Coast and about to embark on a new journey with a new club.

tribalfootball.com caught up with the versatile defender to discuss the next chapter in his football career, which includes a stint in Denmark, experience in the old National Soccer League competition and success in the A-League with Melbourne Victory.

 How was your time with FC Aarhus in Denmark? Was it a good experience and would you advise budding young players to take an opportunity overseas if it arose?

"My time at FC Aarhus was a great experience. I went to Denmark when I was 19 and it was a steep learning curve.

"The players and coaching stuff treated me well and I played quite a few first team games which was good.

"I would tell young players to first establish themselves in Australia before going overseas. The A-League is a great platform and there is always overseas teams looking for talented young players."

 How have you felt about the transition from the old National Soccer League to the new A-League? Do you find it more attractive in regards to things such as quality, style, crowds, exposure (media) etc.?

"The NSL was a great competition however the A-League has taken football in Australia to another level.

"All clubs being full-time adds credibility.

"The fact that quality players are coming from overseas to be part of the A-League is a great sign.

"The crowds have been great over four seasons and being able to compete in Asia brings excellent exposure to the A-League."

 How do you feel about not being given many opportunities towards the end of your time with Melbourne Victory? Did you feel a part of the second championship although you had limited game time during the season?

"It was a tough and very disappointing year for me.

"Not being involved on match days and watching the games from the stands or at home was difficult.

"I don't blame anyone but myself. I wasn't training hard enough and consequently lost my place in the team.

"It was a massive wake-up call and in hindsight it was probably a good thing for me.

"I definitely don't take things for granted anymore. I didn't really feel part of the championship and in fact gave my medal away after the game."

 On the flip side of that, how was it winning the 2006/07 title? What were your feelings, emotions? Were you proud to win Australia's biggest football competition with your hometown team?

"It was a great feeling winning the 2006/2007 championship.

"We finished second-last the year before so to turn it around and win the league and championship was a massive achievement for the players and club.

"It was also great playing in front of family and friends and it's a memory I will never forget."

 You said in a recent interview that there was a stage where you lost some passion and motivation in the past 12 months. How have you turned that around? Has the challenge of playing at a brand new club helped?

"After speaking to a few people they made me realise that if Gold Coast didn't give me another opportunity I would probably be working in a 9 to 5 job.

"That shook me up a lot. They made me realise how fortunate I am and that I shouldn't take it for granted.

"I owe a lot to (Gold Coast coach) Miron (Bleiberg) for giving me another opportunity in the A-League."

 Tell us about your experience in the 2003 FIFA Youth World Championships in the UAE.

"It was a wonderful experience playing against the world's best players in the same age group.

"My roommate was (Celtic's) Scott McDonald, it's great watching him do well for his club and country.

"We were the first Australian team to beat Brazil in the group stage which was a great achievement for the squad."

 Are you excited about the 2009/2010 A-League season with Gold Coast United? Do you think the squad will be competitive against the already established teams?

"I am very excited about the upcoming season.

"We have a very good squad and its know a matter of performing on the park.

"Gold Coast have given the players every opportunity to succeed with top class physios, gym instructors etc.

"I believe the squad will be very competitive against the already established teams."

 The squad that has been put together so far consists of names such as Jason Culina, Adam Griffiths, Michael Thwaite, Shane Smeltz, Joel Porter and your old teammate Daniel Piorkowski. Who are you looking forward to playing with most?

"I'm looking forward to playing with all the players.

"There are top class players in the squad so it's exciting being a part of it.

"It's great to be part of the inaugural Gold Coast team and I'm sure we will be very competitive in the upcoming season."

Andrew Slevison
About the author

Andrew Slevison

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