Family pride to the fore as Gold Coast’s Lustica makes debut
As one of Australia’s rising football stars took to the field, to make his A-League debut against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday night, a new statistic was being recorded, albeit tentatively while records were being hurriedly checked.
Gold Coast United’s Steven Lustica was brought into the game by Miron Bleiberg with five minutes to go, in a game that was out of the competition pacesetters’ reach. Lustica had been brought into the squad due to injuries and unavailability.
As the young Canberrian ran onto the Bluetongue Stadium pitch, sitting in the stands were his parents, ACT football identity Bernie Lustica and wife Mira, possibly with a slight hint of tears in their eyes.
Lustica Snr. commented quizzically, “you know, I think, but I am not sure, that Steven and I might be the youngest father/son combination to make their debuts at national league level ?”. Steven’s management quickly got in touch with leading football stats man Andrew Howe for confirmation, and Bernie was correct in his assumptions.
The information came back, that indeed the Australian youth representative, currently being scouted by Croatian, German and Italian clubs, had assisted his father in setting a new benchmark in Australian football.
“My wife and I, and all our family and friends are so proud of Steven tonight,” said Bernie. “His dedication to his football, and his focus on his future, are the qualities that will help him make it to the top”.
Lustica Jnr. was also excited to achieve another career milestone, but just as proud to be able to emulate his father’s feat of 31 years before.
“I was excited about my debut on the inside, but wanted to focus on doing a good job for Miron, Paul, Mr. Palmer, and the boys … it wasn’t about me, it’s about the club” said Steven. “I didn’t know about the record with my Dad until later, and that made my debut extra special. If it wasn’t for my parents’ support, I would never have had so much football opportunity”.
Traditionally, Gold Coast players must sing a song for the lads or pay $100 fine, when they make their first team debut.
“I think I will pay the hundred,” said Steven.