Wednesday, 2 February 2005 8:00 AM
By Michael Tsoukalis
Continuing with the theme of interviewing up-and-coming young-guns Vasilios Natsioulas typifies what the current South Melbourne squad is all about.
Bristling with talent and considerable NSL experience for-his-age,
Natsioulas was a fan favourite down at Knight’s Stadium, where his silky skills coupled with his dedication and obvious play for the shirt won the hearts of the Sunshine-based club.
His intentions at South Melbourne are no different, the supporters can expect much of the same.
A bit about your career to date?
“I started playing at the age of 7 at Clayton Juniors. At the age of 10 I moved onto their more advanced junior setup (Box Hill Inter) and spent 5 years there. I had one season at Knox when I was 16 and then moved to the VPL-based Bentleigh Greens where I made a couple of appearances off the bench for the seniors. Later that season I trialled for the Melbourne Knight’s youth team and was fortunately picked up. My senior debut came soon after where I played 25 or so NSL games largely as a winger with stints in attack and centre midfield”.
Having played both in the NSL and VPL what are the major differences in the standard of play?
“Look, both leagues have their advantages and disadvantages. The NSL is far more technical whilst the VPL is a far quicker style of play. In the NSL support play from team-mates was far greater, i.e. when you’re in a sticky position there was inevitably always an option. However, if the NSL was played at VPL-like speed the likelihood of players being skinned would also increase as the general technical ability of the old NSL was considerably better”.
Who are some of the hardest opponents you’ve come up against?
“Matty Horsely was a real livewire, super-fit and hard to keep up with. Tommy Pondeljak was high quality, box-to-box all game. However, Troy Halpin of Sydney Olympic takes the top award. Halpin is the sort of player who may not work much but makes up for his lack of engine by reading the game immaculately. He just knows where to position himself in order to get the ball. I distinctly remember playing against Olympic and having the most possession of any Knight’s player that day as I had decided to follow him around the pitch”.
“I definitely want to stay in Australia and prove myself here. The overseas dream isn’t as much of a lure for me as it is with other players. The new Football Administration in place at the top of the game sees conditions for players in Australia continually on the rise. Being able to earn a comfortable living from the game at home, is now a real possibility and something which I find quite appealing. I won’t lie and say the A-League isn’t a league I want to be competing in, whether that be with a club like South or somebody else.
I’ve been at a similar level before, and want to reach that summit again.
Why did you choose South Melbourne?
“I chose South Melbourne for the shirt.
I had offers from the Knights, Oakleigh, Bentleigh and Green Gully, but ultimately I just wanted to play for South.
Having been one of the leading clubs in Australia for such a long time, the level of professionalism and prestige at the club is something a young player can really appreciate.
From something as simple as the quality of the facility that is Bob Jane Stadium, choosing South was ultimately an easy decision.”
What can the supporters expect from the team and from Vasilios Natsioulas?
“We’ve got a young side at South, but one which I firmly believe has the playing stocks to be challenging for a top-six position.
On a personal level, the fans can expect a player who loves to attack and has an emphasis on creativity.
The style of play I produced at the Melbourne Knights is a good indicator as to the level/style of play that I’m trying to bring to South Melbourne”.