In the modern world of professional sport, loyalty is a tradition which barely rates a mention.
However, on July 3rd’, Will Angel, the Sydney Olympic striker, proved there is still sentiment in football when he appeared in his 150th first grade game against Parramatta.
Angel is a humble man who’s only thought in the last 6 years has been to give blood, sweat and tears for his beloved Sydney Olympic.
Nevertheless, there had been times when the opportunity may have been presented for Angel to leave the club.
Former Socceroo, Brad Maloney, liked what he saw in 2011 and believed Angel had the ability to play in Asia.
“Tim Bredbury, the former Sydney Olympic ace striker, came specially to see me in one game but unfortunately I got injured early in the first half”, says Angel.
“After that nothing transpired”.
Perhaps his biggest test came when Peter Tsekenis and Peter Papoythis resigned from their coaching roles at the club in mid May, 2013.
“I only learned at the end of a midweek friendly match against the Socceroos that the two coaches had resigned but shortly after I discovered key players Ibrahim Haydar, Phil Makrys, Brett Studman and Manny Giannaros were also leaving.
“I was in a quandry so I spoke to Paul Henderson, our experienced keeper, who suggested I stay but it was the conversation with Peter Papoythis who gave me my chance as a youngster at Bankstown which was most significant.
“Papoythis said I should stay at the club because I would learn a lot from new coach, Grant Lee, and he proved to be right”.
It has been a revolving door at Sydney Olympic as Grant Lee has watched players come and go but his policy of promoting youth is starting to pay dividends as the team is slowly climbing up the table in the past month.
Also, the team’s great performances in reaching the preliminary final last year was clearly evidence of his pedigree as a coach.
“Since Grant has been here, I think more about my approach to every game and as a senior member of the squad I always like to assist the younger players”, says Angel.
However, it’s also interesting the different ways Lee has employed the capabilities of Will Angel.
In the 3-0 defeat of Parramatta FC, Angel seemed to drift between the flanks, wing back and fullback.
To the informed observer, he is most dangerous drifting along the last line with his explosive speed as the great Michael Owen did at Liverpool and Manchester United but Grant Lee knows how versatile Angel is as he tries to plug a weakness on the left side of defence.
Once again he played at left back in last weeks 4-3 thrilling defeat of Hakoah Sydney City East but you have to ask the question is he being sacrificed for the stability of the team?
Furthermore, is this the reason his goal scoring tally has been so low over the last few years?
“I would certainly like to score regularly to add to the numerous assists but if the coach wants to put me in a particular role, I’m just happy to play and contribute to the team effort”.
Also, the fact he hasn’t broken into a Hyundai A- League team despite playing for Newcastle Jets Youth team 8 years ago, could be the lack of goals.
Grant Lee has this to say about Angel.
“Will has tremendous character, is a great club and team man, works very hard at training, never shirks responsibility, is a good athlete with fine technique and is a great example to the younger players”.
“The fact he hasn’t played in the Hyundai A–League is more a reflection of the lack of opportunity given to local players and it’s a shame he didn’t go overseas which would’ve been a great springboard to grow his career further”, adds Lee.
-By Roger Sleeman