Heart offer Garcia a fresh start
The Melbourne Heart pulled off a massive transfer coup in signing Socceroo Richard Garcia on a free transfer this week.
This has arguably been their biggest transfer in the off season thus far. The signing also fits under the salary cap meaning that the ‘Australian marquee’ allocation is free for further additions to the squad.
For Garcia, it presents an ideal opportunity to showcase his talents to the Australian media and fans, who will perhaps only remember him for his ill-fated selection against Germany at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. We can all thank the masterful Pim Verbeek for that one.
Richard Garcia’s football career began at the highly successful West Ham youth academy, playing regularly alongside high profile stars Michael Carrick and Joe Cole. Garcia was part of this golden generation which claimed the 1998/1999 FA Youth Cup with a stunning 9-0 aggregate win against Colchester United. It was no coincidence that Garcia wore the No.10 jersey in this final, Garcia scored a goal in every round of that FA Cup run.
Garcia spent the 2000 season on loan at Leyton Orient, playing vital senior football. In September of 2001, Garcia made his senior debut for the Hammers against Reading, capping off a meteoric rise for this young Australian. Playing time became limited at West Ham United and Garcia was to move on to the club he tormented in that youth final, League 1 side, Colchester United.
The move to Colchester would pave the way for a very successful career England, with regular playing time allowing Garcia to ripen as a player. Garcia would lead Colchester to promotion after just two seasons, with Colchester entering the Championship for the 2006/2007 season.
The step up in class was no concern for Garcia, thriving under the cut throat rigours of the Championship. He would score in the opening game of the season against Birmingham, before scoring a total of seven goals in his 36 appearances.
Colchester could no longer match Garcia’s ambition so, with other clubs showing interest, Garcia made the biggest move in his career, signing for Hull City on the 2nd of July 2007. Hull City manager Phil Brown offered a three year deal to Garcia, after notably catching his eye with his performances for Colchester.
Richard Garcia would become an integral member of Phil Brown’s promotion-chasing Hull. Playing in predominantly an attacking role, Garcia made over 40 appearances for the season, scoring a total of seven goals, five of which were in their successful Championship season, where they gained promotion to the Premier League. His scorcher against Burnley was voted Hull City’s Goal of the season.
The Premier League is the pinnacle of English football, and Garcia would join Australians Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer and Mark Viduka in England’s elite competition for the 2008/2009 season. Garcia would be in and out of Hull’s line-up, but managed a goal against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. This allowed Garcia to bring up a successful string of games, playing on the right for the Tigers. His debut EPL season would produce the one goal and two assists in 23 Premier League matches.
Injury would strike Garcia following his first season in England’s top flight and form was never the same for the gifted attacker. He would only manage 18 appearances in Hull’s second season in the Premier League, before they were relegated back to the Championship. Garcia still remained crucial, scoring two goals in 26 appearances for the 2010/2011 Championship season.
The 2011/12 Championship season was a tragic one for the winger, as knee troubles would limit his appearances to just 10. Reports said that a one year contract extension was withdrawn due to the severe nature of his knee troubles. Garcia would miss plenty of football with this injured cruciate ligament, a sad conclusion to over ten years of footballing in England.
Garcia’s Socceroos career began extremely late. Often overlooked for the national team at youth and senior level, Garcia made his Socceroos debut on the 19th of August 2008, against South Africa in a friendly as a 27 year old.
This set up a consistent run in the national team, playing in more friendlies before ultimately creating history when playing against Germany in the first match of 2010 World Cup. He would become the first ever Hull City player to play in a World Cup. Unfairly criticised for this performance, Garcia was a victim of circumstance. Garcia earned his spot in that Socceroos squad.
The talented Garcia now has the chance to settle down in Melbourne, after passing the required medical, putting injury troubles well and truly behind him. There is still growing determination and hunger in this 30 year old, and the gifted winger will no doubt be crucial in the Melbourne Heart’s premiership push.
The Spanish speaking Socceroo will with no doubt want to catch Holger’s eye down under and John Aloisi should give him free rein to pull the strings in a creative role. Let’s sit back and watch the man work his magic for the Melbourne Heart.
Richard Garcia, welcome home.
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