Perth Glory defender Michael Thwaite goes 1v1 with the PFA to share his insights into his seven seasons in the A-League, where the game has progressed, the issues that need to be addressed and much more.

Q. In 2008 you returned to Australia after six years in Europe, how different was the league from what you had left behind in the NSL?

MT: During my time in the NSL there was so much uncertainty over the future of the league and when it was finally closed that was when I went overseas. I think coming back to the biggest club in the A-League at the time, Melbourne Victory, showed how big the difference was from the A-League to the NSL. We had a great team and a good culture that was driven by Kevin Muscat and Ernie Merrick. You can see now how much they have continued to improve.


Q. After a season with the Victory you decided to join Gold Coast United for their inaugural season, was that a difficult decision to make?

MT: It was a really tough decision. My wife and I were expecting our first child and we had the Asian Champions League to look forward to as well and I got offered a four-year deal at the club. When Gold Coast came in for me, I spoke to Miron (Bleiberg, Gold Coast United Coach) and I’m a Queenslander through and through and I got offered a three-year deal and was hoping that I would not go anywhere for the rest of my career.


Q. From the outside it all looked very exciting at the club but how were things on the inside of the club?

MT: From the outside it looked like our environment at the Gold Coast was really professional but there were some fundamental things missing in the football environment. We had a strong culture within the change room and had real quick success in the first two years but towards to end of the second year things started to go wrong.

We were losing money but I don’t think it needed to be that way. I think in any major city in Australia the interest is there but clubs just need to tap into that and use the players wisely to assist in that. I think the club needed to look at the more successful clubs in the league and learn from them to get the structure right.


 Q. How difficult where those final few months at the club?

MT: I took the demise of the club very personally as I had turned down a four-year deal at a club like the Victory to come to the Gold Coast. We intended to be there for the rest of my career, we had bought a house, which we only sold last year and lost a lot of money on that.


Q. Contract security has been a key claim for the PFA during the CBA negotiations, how important due you believe it is to the A-League?

MT: I have seen how hard it impacted on players at the Gold Coast and also at the North Queensland Fury. When players are making commitments they expect that contract will be honored. When it isn’t and it is taken away it really impacts on your life and for me personally it meant uprooting my family again and moving to Perth, somewhere that is a long way from our families. Contract security is a must if we want to get the best players playing in the A-League because currently there are no guarantees.


Q. Following the demise of the club, you joined Perth Glory; how do you view your time at the club to date?

MT: There has been some brilliant times but what has been really hard is that in my three years that I have been at Perth I think we have rebuilt the playing squad every season. We have also had three different coaches and that makes it difficult to build. When you look at the clubs that have had stability with their coach over a number of seasons it has helped them.

On a personal note the initial decision to move here was tough as every city that we have moved to has also meant that my wife has had to find a new job and obviously with kids being older it makes it harder to keep moving around.


Q. After a brilliant first half of the season during the last campaign things would unravel; what was your reaction when the decision was handed down regarding the club’s salary cap breach?

MT: For me as the captain and having seen the work that Kenny (Lowe, Perth Glory Coach) had put into building that squad it was heart breaking. When we starting hearing the rumors we were really shocked but when the ruling came down it was way beyond that, we were devastated.

What we were able to do after the decision was made was unbelievable and I could not be more proud of how the players reacted, it showed the true character of the team. We accepted every punishment and what it means – which is having to rebuild again.


Q. Finally, you are now approaching your eighth season in the A-League; what do you believe are the keys to ensuring the A-League can go to the next level?

MT: I think it is important that we look to push not just the A-League forward but the Socceroos and the Matildas as well as they are all linked and have an impact on each other and the game in general. I think there needs to be greater collaboration between the clubs, FFA and the PFA as that will help things to move forward. Also I believe that clubs need to look to ensure a no excuse environment where they look to really invest in their facilities, as this is fundamental in developing good players and improving the standard.


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