Things aren’t going well for United
The Young Socceroos of 1999 was a significant generation of players. Although overshadowed back then by the phenomenal exploits of the Joeys that year, the Young Socceroos that went to Nigeria would provide the nucleus of today’s Socceroos squad.
From that squad, there’s players like Brett Emerton, Jason Culina, Vince Grella, Mark Bresciano, Mile Sterjovski, Danny Invicibile and Joel Griffiths.
They’ve all done well for themselves, haven’t they?
But there are also those who never made it – Youth Squads always have that – and others who carved out careers in relative obscurity.
John Maisano, wearer of the number 10 shirt in that tournament, was one of those.
Following the tournament, Maisano eeked out a career in the NSL over the next few years as an attacking midfielder of some talent, playing with current A-League fixtures Angelo Costanzo and Alex Brosque.
Time came for Maisano to make the move abroad, but he chose an unusual path, along with his younger brother, defensive midfielder Marco Maisano.
Greenock Morton were a club that had seen better days.
They appeared periodically in the top flight, with spells each decade through the 1980s. Most notably, they are the club of Andy Ritchie, one of Scotland’s finest ever uncapped players, extravagantly talented and one of the great free-kick takers of his time, also renowned for his rather rotund appearance!
The club had slid in successive seasons from the First Division (second tier) to the Third (fourth tier), the lowest point in the club’s history.
The Maisano brothers would join Morton in this dreadful time, and become two of the more significant figures in the club’s recent history. They became the star boys of the club, its heart and soul when it was trying to extract itself from this dreadful period.
John Maisano became an instant crowd favourite, demonstrating technical gifts far above this rather low level, and turning in sterling performances as Morton won the Third Division title in 2003.
Over the next two years, the club settled into the third tier, with John weighing in his share of goals, but questions about his consistency and work ethic inevitably arose.
In 2005, the Maisano brothers left Morton.
Marco returned to Australia, while John played briefly for Ayr United and Stranrer before retiring in 2006, aged just 27. His was an utterly unfulfilled yet colourful career. He clearly loved Scotland and especially Morton, so much that he married a local girl and resides there to this day.
The Maisano brothers no doubt have a special place in Greenock Morton history.
They came at the lowest point in the club’s history and provided entertainment and inspiration when it was badly needed, as the club was slowly rebuilding.
You can’t ask for much more than that.