Ante Covic goes 1v1 with the PFA to discuss his three seasons at the Western Sydney Wanderers, the efforts the players made to build the club on and off the pitch, the decision to join Perth Glory and what it means for him and his family.

Q. You were one of the first players signed by the Wanderers ahead of their inaugural season; what were your expectations before the season?

AC: Internally we had high expectations of ourselves and we were very ambitious. The first few days it was hard to know how we would go because there was only six signed players and the rest of the players were trialists. We left it to everyone else on the outside to make public predictions. There was a great belief internally and to win the Premiership was the goal and it was a fantastic achievement. The players instantly had a very strong bond with each other.


Q. It has been evident from day one just how strong the bond was between the players and the fans, was that something that took a lot of work to build?

AC: The first year we were very busy in the community and that was for a good reason because we felt such connection with the fans straight away. The region had been crying out for a team and we respected that. Our first trial game at Cook Park there was thousands of fans and the RBB were strong straight away. We knew as players that the fans were integral to building the club and we really enjoyed it because you could see how much it meant to the fans.


Q. The first year would off course be a massive success, but the second was extremely so as well, do you think that surprised people?

AC: Some people were probably thinking that the second year would be really different to our first. We were determined for that not to be the case and we knew we had the quality. We feel short again unfortunately. In that second year we were hunted and it was very different to the first year. It made us work even harder and we proved our worth again and showed how good of a team we were.


 Q. The Champions League triumph must have been a highlight, did it sink in at the time just how big off an achievement it was?

AC: When we won it you knew the magnitude of it but it probably didn’t sink in at the time what we had done. It is going really difficult for another Australian club to do it again and we did it in our first attempt. Looking back it is the highlight of my professional career. There was so much belief in the team and we had such an unbelievable run and once we got through the group stages we had so much confidence. We were the team that everybody wrote off


Q. There was not a lot of time to savor your success as you were straight back into the A-League; was that tough?

AC: It was very difficult we hadn’t started the A-League as well as we would have hoped. Straight away we got back from Saudi Arabia and we were off to Wellington so that made it tough and the week after that we had Perth away so there was a lot of travel and a lot of games in a short period of time. We fell behind the leaders and that made it tough as it can be a lot harder chasing the pack rather than leading it. The whole Champions League was draining and we found it tough to manage the A-League as well. The longer the season went the harder it got to turn things around. We were constantly recovering and it felt like we never got a chance to train a whole week and prepare for a match and that made it hard. There was a lot things and I think we didn’t handle it the best we could off.


Q. Has the Asian Champions League shown you just how fast the rise of Asia is?

AC: As a league we are behind in terms of finances from clubs in countries like China and the UAE but they do get some extra help. When we played some teams from Korea and China and their federations would postpone games to help them be in the best possible shape for the Champions League because it means so much to be successful in Asia. We need to look at the same type of measures. With CBA negotiations going on this is what we are trying to address, and everyone has to work together. The players are not trying to be greedy, we want the same thing as the fans, which is the best players playing here in the A-League.


Q. How did you feel after the club confirmed that they would not be offering you a contract extension?

AC: I hoped to be there at the club for longer. One thing about me is that I have always had massive drive and I hate losing and I have never been a player that wanted one more year for the sake of it. Leaving the Wanderers was not ideal but I knew I was not done with football.


Q. Was it tough to leave on that not after all the success you had enjoyed there?

AC: It is probably bittersweet. I can’t fault my three years at the club. I probably achieved more in that three years than I did in the previous 15. It was a place that I hoped to be at for the long term but now I have to move onto something else. I look back very fondly on my time at the club.


Q. What were those initial few weeks like after leaving the Wanderers?

AC: Most players have been in this scenario when things are unknown. It happened to me when I left Melbourne Victory and again when I left the Wanderers and you wonder what is next. I have gone all over the world and it feels never ending and my kids maybe don’t know where home is. It was not an easy time and there is a lot uncertainty but thankfully I’m experienced and I have been through it before.


 Q. Was it an easy decision to join Perth?

AC: The time was not right for me to finish up and I feel I have more to give. It is not going to be easy going over to the other side of Australia without my family but those are things that you contend with being a footballer. Sometimes things aren’t in your hands as a footballer but I’m really grateful for the opportunity Perth have given me and I’m looking forward to getting over there and helping them to be successful.


Each week the PFA will go 1v1 with current or former player to gain insight into the lives of professional footballers on and off the pitch.