The Akhmat Grozny goalkeeper was not keen to share his penalty box with the reptile in the loss to Sochi.
With the possibility of A-League wages being lowered next campaign, there’s been concern around losing Australian talent to overseas leagues.
However, there are two sides to every coin, and for National Premier Leagues players, fortune favours the brave.
A mass departure of A-League stars might seem alarming, but it also increases the prospect of lower grade players graduating to the big time and of the thousands of potential stars, one person worthy of attention is Japanese attacker Tasuku Sekiya.
Formerly at APIA Leichhardt, Sekiya came to prominence by scoring two stunning goals against Melbourne Victory in 2018, knocking the glamour club out of the FFA Cup.
The following year, while playing for Avondale FC to further his career, he was interviewed by SBS.
“Every challenge makes me stronger,” he said.
But after the pandemic hit, playing NPL in Victoria seemed unlikely.
In this case, most semi-professional players would either return to their day jobs, move back home, or apply for government assistance. But Sekiya challenged himself to keep playing the game he loved.
With COVID greatly affecting football in Victoria, he relocated to Queensland and signed with Olympic FC for the remainder of the NPL season.
Olympic FC’s head coach, Ban Cahn, praised Sekiya’s sacrifice and commitment to the beautiful game.
“He’s aware of the club’s financial position,” Cahn recently said. “He’s obviously taken a big cut, but just wants to play, add to our environment, and help us pursue finals football.”
Before the pandemic, SBS author Junko Hirabayashi praised Sekiya for “focusing on improving himself, rather than blaming others, or circumstances.” It sums up his mindset nicely and foreshadows his bright future.
His passion to play proves the next generation of stars are wiling to work hard to make their A-League dreams come true.
Here’s looking forward to next season, new players and exciting opportunities.