EXCLUSIVE: Foschini focused on first team growth with Melbourne Victory

After working his way into the Melbourne Victory line-up last season, teenager Matthew Foschini is looking to grow into the first team in 2010/11.

After working his way into the Melbourne Victory line-up last season, teenager Matthew Foschini is looking to grow into the first team in 2010/11.

The former Caulfield Grammar student appeared in 11 A-League games for the two-time champions as they went about defending their 2008/09 title, starting one and also coming on as a substitute in the ill-fated Grand Final against Sydney FC (the Victory lost on penalties).

Foschini will be the first to admit that he only got a look-in because the club had a long injury list in the latter stages of the season but now he has experience at the top level, and in finals nonetheless, is looking to build on what he achieved personally in 2009/10 to help the Victory get back on the winners list.

tribalfootball.com caught up with the defender, who doesn’t mind a run in midfield, to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming season and his future in the game.

“I am feeling much more confident this season compared to last year as I have gained valuable experience over the last year, which I have no doubt will help me during the course of the coming season,” Foschini said. “With a year in the A-league under my belt I am now much more aware of what is expected of me on a week to week basis and I feel that this can only improve my chances of being successful this season.”

The 19-year old (he turns 20 later this year) admitted he did not hold any expectations ahead of the 2009/10 season and was surprised he played so many games but won’t argue that it gave him an invaluable insight to what is required to make it at the top.

“To be honest with you I didn't expect to play as much as I did last season, but with a long injury list I found myself in the squad on a fair few occasions,” he added. “It was an absolute dream come true for me to make my debut against Perth Glory (2-1 away loss on August 28) last season and it is something that will remain with me for the rest of my life.

“Being involved in the senior squad has helped me immensely and I have gained a lot of confidence from this which has contributed to me improving my game. Being involved in the Grand Final squad made me realise why we play football and that is to win trophies and to feel the disappointment of a loss at the final hurdle has only made myself and the team hungrier for success this season.”

As is the norm for promising young players, trials with European clubs are often used to further development and Foschini was able to experience firsthand what it is like to live the professional life abroad when he spent time with Scottish giants Rangers a couple of years ago.

“Going and trialling at such a club as Rangers was a great experience for me and one which I took a lot from,” Foschini said. “It was good to see how such a big club goes about preparing day in day out. It would be great to one day play overseas but at the moment I am more than happy in Melbourne, and my main priority is to try and cement a spot in the team and play regular senior football on a week to week basis.”

Last Friday, Foschini and the rest of the Victory players took on Argentina’s biggest club, Boca Juniors, in a pre-season ‘friendly’ which was another chance for the youngster to gain experience playing against some of the best players, this time from South America.

“Boca are one of the biggest clubs in the world, so to have an opportunity to play against them was a great experience,” he added. “I thought we played very well considering it was only our second pre-season match. Our fitness was excellent and I thought we were able to knock the ball around quite well and create a few good chances. They are a strong team and it is a credit to our boys for being able to match it with them for the most part of the game. It did get heated at times out on the pitch, but it just goes to show the passion and emotion involved in the game and the fact that our boys were taking the game very seriously.”

Foschini is not the first person in his family to play sport at the highest level. His father, Silvio, played over 100 Australian Rules games with Sydney and St Kilda when the AFL was the Victorian Football League and although he has an interest in the local code, says he the world game is more his style.

“I tried AFL as a kid but never really got into it and plus most of my extended family played soccer anyway so they kind of persuaded me to play soccer,” he said further. “My dad is very supportive of me and is just happy that I enjoy what I do. He also knows what it is like to be a professional athlete so I can learn a lot from him and he is always happy to guide me and tell me a few little hints. We still go down to Waverley Park and have a kick of the Sherrin from time to time and I love it but I think soccer is the game for me.”

As for other influences on his career, Foschini said he doesn’t have to look too far.

“I have learnt a huge amount from the senior players at the club from the moment I walked into the change rooms. Kevin Muscat is the ultimate professional and someone who I really admire and look up to. He has given me priceless advice and advice that I will take with me for the rest of my career. He is someone who I can model my career on as he played and currently plays in positions similar to myself.

“Adrian Leijer has also had a massive influence on me. Being younger he has offered me advice and given me tips that have helped me further improve my game. This type of information is priceless and I have tried to use it to my advantage.”

And for his future plans, Foschini admitted to using a truism but said his career at this stage was simply a week-to-week proposition.

“I know it’s a cliché but I'm just taking it one week at a time and focusing on the year ahead,” he quipped. “As I said earlier I just want to try and cement a spot in the starting 11 and do my best for the team.

“I love the club and the people involved in it, and I really enjoy going to training every morning. The most important thing for me is to try and play some good and consistent football for Melbourne Victory.”