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Australian football needs more Josh Risdons

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Roar Guru
27th February, 2019
9

When my former favourite player Adam Taggart left the Brisbane Roar to an unnamed Asian club, my immediate thoughts were “See you in 18 months Adam”.

We’ve seen the story so many times it’s getting a bit funny.

A player lights up the A-League, then goes to Asia or Europe, then usually fails to get a game and then comes back home and lights up the A-League again.

For Taggart, this situation has actually happened before. He started off playing for his home team the Perth Glory, played ten matches with one goal from 2010-12.

Struggling to find game time, he made a smart move to cross the Nullarbor and join the Newcastle Jets.

He played 44 games with 18 goals but the big achievement of his time there was when he won the golden boot in the 2013-14 season, with 16 goals.

This resulted in his selection in the Socceroos’ 2014 World Cup squad.

And then he decided to move to EFL Championship club Fulham. The now EPL club decided to not give him a game at all and sent him on loan to Scottish club Dundee United for the 2015-16 season, where he played seven games but failed to score a goal.

He then decided to revive his career and come back home to the Perth Glory which was a good move, like it had been for many before him. He scored 20 goals in 38 games, in two seasons, despite being hit by injury.

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Adam Taggart

Adam Taggart of the Roar (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

His career had been revived, but he made the decision to again cross the Nullarbor, and join the Brisbane Roar. Despite his team sitting in ninth, he scored 11 goals in 18 games and was the subject of golden boot speculation. And now he is off to Asia. Good luck Adam.

You may wonder why he would do this. It’s been seen before, he’s had his own experience of it and decided to go down the dark road. What happened to Christian Theoharous and Golgol Mebrahtu? They had the same issue. The reason is the money.

Sadly, today in the sporting world, players are going to be less loyal and will go where the money takes them. Way before my time, but I’ve heard that in the late 60s early 70s, a player would play for the professional club he grew up near and would stick with them through thick and thin.

That isn’t really the case anymore. You just go where the money takes you even if you have to sacrifice becoming a better player.

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Josh Risdon has a different story though. He started, like Taggart, at his hometown club the Perth Glory, and played 142 games there from the 2010-11 season to the 2016-17 season.

He stated that he was feeling “too comfortable” in Perth, which being a Glory fan, sounded very weird. I still feel that there was some other reason why he left that he didn’t want to talk about. Maybe he was offered more money, we’ll never know.

But instead of moving overseas, he moved to the Western Sydney Wanderers. Funnily enough, Tony Popovic was the manager of the club at the time but left before the season started. Now he is managing the Perth Glory.

Risdon did actually say that he was looking forward to working under Popovic. Well that didn’t work out too well considering Risdon would have been playing under Popovic if he stayed at the Glory to this day.

Australia's Josh Risdon

Josh Risdon (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

At the Wanderers, he played 28 games over two season and has since established himself as the Socceroos first choice right-back.

A few weeks ago, he decided to make the next move in his career and once again, not moving overseas, but to A-League expansion club Western United (From Melbourne, not Perth). He is the club’s second signing.

Many people still believe that money isn’t the driving force for an elite footballer to move clubs. They also think about family, success and getting more game time. Maybe it’s just Australian footballers, but when you move to perhaps a bigger club, with less game time and away from home, all I can think of is money.

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It’s a great feat to have such talent and stay in the A-League for so long as shockingly, the average A-League player’s wage is lower than the average wage in the Kazakhstan Premier League.

And Josh Risdon didn’t have the best youth system either. He was born and raised in a town called Bunbury which is located about two hours South of Perth and only has three football clubs. It is home to only about 30,000 people. He decided to leave school and move to Perth to get access to the academies at aged 15.

Think about if the young and upcoming footballers who have access to the academies, a wide range of clubs, multiple scouts and other things, followed in the footsteps of Josh Risdon and stayed in Australia until they were ready to move to one of the world’s big leagues. The Socceroos might actually become a better force.

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For the sake of better Socceroos and not playing for money, let’s hope that people can repeat what Josh Risdon has done.