Wednesday, 3 June 2009 4:40 PM
By John Kyrou
Veteran South Melbourne FC defender Con Blatsis has announced his retirement from football after yet another cruel injury set-back. Despite having his career at lakeside being ravaged by injuries, Blatsis still managed to enjoy many honours wearing the blue and white of South Melbourne.
Blatsis was brought to the club by Frank Arok at the beginning of 1995 and made his debut in the 0-2 win over Port Melbourne in round three of the Docherty Cup. He retained his place in the side as South beat the Melbourne Knights 3-1 in the final, Blatsis’ first trophy as a South player.
The young defender made his National Soccer League debut for the club in the 3-0 loss against the Brisbane Strikers at Suncorp Stadium in round 10 of 1995/96. Unfortunately for Blatsis, a nightmare debut was made worse when referee Simon Micallef sent him off ten minutes before the end of the match. South failed to make the finals in the league but the team won the NSL Cup, with Blatsis playing in the Cup final.
From there, Blatsis cemented his spot in the senior side and figured prominently in season 1996/97 and in the championship-winning season of 1997/98. In 1998/99, he suffered a lengthy injury and missed the majority of the season. However, Blatsis recovered and convinced coach Ange Postecoglou to award him a starting berth in the side that went on to beat Sydney United 3-2 and secure back-to-back NSL championships.
Blatsis remained at the club for the 1999/00 season and was part of the squad that took its place at the inaugural FIFA World Club Championships in Rio de Janeiro. Blatsis and the rest of the South defence did an admirable job defending against the likes of Vasco da Gama’s Romario, Juninho and Edmundo and Manchester United’s Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Andy Cole.
After the thrill of competing against the world’s best in that tournament, Blatsis decided to venture overseas after the 1999/00 NSL season concluded. Stints followed at Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and Colchester United in England and Kocaelispor in Turkey. Blatsis has indicated that a highlight of his when playing overseas was playing at Derby with former Italian international Fabrizio Ravanelli.
At the beginning of 2005, 27-year-old Blatsis decided to return back to Melbourne to play for his beloved South Melbourne FC, now competing in the Victorian Premier League under Blatsis’ former team-mate John Anastasiadis. Anastasiadis signed him for his experience and leadership. Following a mass exodus of players after the demise of the NSL, Anastasiadis was forced to sign young promising players and a player of the Blatsis’ quality was invaluable for his young squad.
Blatsis featured in 15 games for South in 2005 but broke down with injury late in the season. He managed 11 matches in 2006 but broke down in the 3-0 win over Green Gully in the Elimination Final at Bob Jane Stadium. Despite the set-back, he was still there supporting his teammates as South secured its eighth state league title with a 1-0 victory over Altona in the Grand Final.
Blatsis has attempted to get his body right to play ever since. In the past few seasons he has assisted the club in sales, helping to promote South Melbourne FC to the football community. This season he managed to play in the Under 21s however recently he broke down with injury again and therefore was forced to retire from playing.
Con Blatsis may not have played as many matches for South Melbourne FC as he would have liked due to injury; however he can be proud of stamping his mark at the club by being involved in Victorian and Australian championships, as well as representing the club on the world stage. His decision to rejoin South when the club was on its knees (2005) and for working to promote the club in the sales department shows the immense devotion and loyalty he possesses for the Blues.South Melbourne FC players, coaches, staff, board members and supporters congratulate Con on his football career and wishes him all the best in his retirement.
Con Blatsis – SMFC Statistics:
1995/96 – 19 games (17 starts, 2 subs), 1 goal
1996/97 – 23 games (23 starts, 0 subs), 2 goals
1997/98 – 23 games (23 starts, 0 subs), 1 goal
1998/99 – 7 games (6 starts, 1 sub)
1999/00 – 24 games (24 starts, 0 subs), 1 goal
2005 – 15 games (15 starts, 0 subs)
2006 – 11 games (11 starts, 0 subs)
2007 – 0 games (0 starts, 0 subs)
2008 – 0 games (0 starts, 0 subs)
2009 – 0 games (0 starts, 0 subs)
Total – 122 games (119 starts, 3 subs), 5 goals
1995 Docherty Cup – 4 games (4 starts, 0 subs)
1996 Docherty Cup – 0 games (0 starts, 0 subs)
1995/96 NSL Cup – 4 games (4 starts, 0 subs)
1996/97 NSL Cup – 2 games (2 starts, 0 subs)
2000 FIFA World Club Cup - 3 games (3 starts, 0 subs)
Total – 13 games (13 starts, 0 subs)
Overall Total: 135 games (132 starts, 3 subs), 5 goals
NPL Round 1South Melbourne FC vs Heidelberg UnitedThursday March 13thOlympic VillageSenior Kick-Off: 7.15pm