Tuesday, 1 February 2005 8:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
It’s no secret, that this coming season’s squad features many richly talented young players.
One of the most promising is ex-Whittlesea Stallions striker Peter Koutsoupias.
Peter was kind enough to lend his time to allow South supporters a greater insight into his career, thus far.
So Pete a bit about your career to date.
“I started playing football at a relatively old age. I was 13 before I started playing organised games and in a team environment. I had always loved the game and would gather on weekly basis with some family and friends, to take on some local African players at a nearby park. Week after week they would consistently beat us; it was when we finally beat them, that I decided I should give the game a proper crack”.
“My first club was Meadow Park, I wasn’t there for long however as I was spotted by Charlie Spiteri who was running an elite coaching academy for kids, known as the ‘Centre of Excellence’. Charlie invited me to join the academy, as well as the club he was coaching at the time, Eltham.
I spent one season at Eltham and then moved to the Super-league-based U14’s at Thomastown”.
“From Thomastown I trialled at the newly-formed Whittlesea Stallions who picked me up for their U16’s side whilst I was still 15.
The move to the reserves side followed quickly with my senior debut coming at the age of 16 and a-half”.
During my time in the National Youth League, I helped Whittlesea knock out South in the Southern Semi Finals. We ended up winning 3-2 that day, and I nabbed 2 of those, one at each end and in the process accomplished one of my dreams, to score at BJS.
We ended up winning the Southern Youth league that year, but unfortunately quickly came back down to earth when a Parramatta side fielding many players with NSL experience comfortably defeated us, in the National titles”.
“Last season I scored 7 or so VPL goals in 10 starts so naturally I’m looking forward to improving on that mark, I had an unfortunate run of 10 or so matches where the coach at the time, didn’t see me in his plans, for me, it was an extremely frustrating period as I had scored 4 goals in the first 5 games of the season and could not understand why I was being left-out.
Thankfully with Gary Cole taking over late, I was re-instated into the starting 11 and finished the season strongly scoring 3 times in the last 5 games”.
Your trial at Derby County?
“An amazing experience. I was training with their U19’s and walked past many great senior players like Fabrizio Ravanelli and Malcolm Christie.
Manager John Gregory was being treated like royalty tucking into a cup of tea and some biscuits, but on a more serious note.. the 3 week experience taught me many things.
It made me realise the level of “cut and thrust” required to make it overseas. In my first week nobody said a word to me, something I found very odd, only later did I realise that it was due to the incredibly high level of competition for places.
I played in a friendly against West Bromwich Albion and came close to scoring with a header, that flashed narrowly wide passed the upright. At the end of my 3 weeks I was given a report card with recommendations regarding potential areas of improvement.
I have been working away at those areas ever since”.
“I want to play at the highest possible level that I can, whether that be in Australia or overseas. I am 19 now and still feel that I can give the overseas dream another shot”.
Why did you choose South Melbourne?
“Simply I followed my heart. I had an offer from Heidelberg but for me the choice was very straightforward. Growing up in a Greek family I always felt close to South, it was the club I supported. From seeing current coach Johnny A score a double against Sydney United in the season 99/00 grand final, it is that sort of euphoria that I wanted to experience.
At South, the supporters are amazing; to be able to celebrate with fans as if they are your brother, is something unique.
To illustrate that point, in our recent friendly against the Sunshine Georgies, the atmosphere generated by the boys in the Clarendon Corner is something I have never experienced before”.
You’ve been given the number 9 made famous by club legend Paul Trimboli, how did that come about?
“Trimmers was training with the squad right throughout pre-season. I never expected to be wearing such a famous number; I mean the guy’s an absolute legend, someone I truly admire. When he decided to retire, I donned the famous number during some pre-season games. It’s a number I have always enjoyed wearing and to adopt it a club where it is a sacred thing, is an honour. Not many things bring tears to my eyes, but going up to Trimmers and telling him that I hope to live up to the number was something which certainly did”.
What can the supporters expect from the team and from Peter Koutsoupias?
“Maximum effort and players giving it their all are two characteristics which describe this team well. On a personal level I class myself as a player who loves to entertain and excite the fans. There is no better feeling then a crowd responding positively to the way you and the team is playing. Also knowing how special the supporter base at South is makes me want to create and score goals just so I can celebrate these moments of joy with them”.