After having his playing career cut short, Sydney FC championship winning defender Jacob Timpano is making the most of being Wollongong’s ‘SoccerMan’.

‘Don’t take being a professional footballer for granted’. It’s advice often given by former players, but when it is a message coming from Jacob Timpano reflecting on his football journey, truer words could not be spoken.

In a career that promised so much, whichever way you look at it, Timpano’s story contains highs, lows, frustration and a reminder to make the most of every day because you just don’t know what can happen.

While experiencing his share of triumphs, Timpano’s playing career was predominantly a case of ‘what could have been’ if not for a string of chronic injuries that made him give his professional playing career away at the prime age of 25.

Despite the disappointment of a playing career that ended prematurely, Timpano is kicking on and flourishing in other areas, including a successful SoccerMan program he started up with his brother Matt.

While Timpano may no longer be contributing to and influencing results himself on the field, he is making a notable difference off it. Here is his story.

The potential

Born and bred in Wollongong, by the time he was 16 Timpano was already playing first grade for the Wollongong Wolves in the old National Soccer League (NSL). Such was his potential and temperament as a central defender, Timpano was called up for the Australian U-17 squad, a side he would end up captaining and competing at numerous tournaments including underage FIFA World Cups. He would also go on to represent Australia at Under 20 and Under 23 level.

It was almost a case of when and where, not if, Timpano would go on to ply his trade professionally and enjoy the fruits of a decorated career as a player. But in football as in life, things don’t always follow a predicted script.

The good times

Before the tough and testing times hit, Timpano experienced some significant highs, headlined by representing Australia at underage level and being a crucial cog in Sydney FC’s march towards the inaugural Hyundai A-League championship which he won at the age of 20.

“Winning the inaugural A-League championship is something that will stick with me forever but I’ll also always look back fondly on playing in the Australian youth teams and at a few underage World Cups,” said Timpano.

Highly regarded by club and country, Timpano was playing regularly and enjoying his football. However, all this would change due to a raft of injuries.


Groin injuries, a chronic ankle problem, a bulging disc, a broken foot, soft tissue injuries – these were the setbacks Timpano would be confronted with and lead to him ultimately give the game he loved away.

After making 21 appearances in Sydney FC’s championship winning season, Timpano would only go on to play a further five more games in the Hyundai A-League because of injury. Those five appearances came in ensuing seasons for the Sky Blues before he spent a season with the now defunct North Queensland Fury, a stint in which injury meant he did not feature at all. By this stage the frustration had become too much and Timpano decided to call it quits as he came to grips with the fact his body was not going to hold up despite only being 25.

“At the time you feel frustrated and angry at the game,” recalls Timpano.

“When you’re on track to hopefully achieve some big things and it gets taken away from you it is difficult to deal with but fortunately I had good people around me to help me through it.”

“A chronic ankle injury is eventually why I retired but I had a lot of soft tissue injuries, a lot of biomechanical issues.”

Putting yourself in Timpano’s shoes, it’s near impossible not to feel the same sentiment and let go of that sense of frustration. But with time Timpano has come to appreciate the experiences he did have as a player and an underlying feeling of gratitude.

“Being a player who was doing well and at the heights that I managed to get to, not being able to kick on and have a good career, that’s frustrating and it was really hard to deal with at the time and even post playing,” said Timpano.

“But I think it’s one of those ones where you look back on things and just to be given the opportunity to play at international youth level, in the A-League and win an A-League grand final, it’s a lot more than most get to do so you’ve got to look at the positives.”

Looking back

The injury setbacks were not the only trials and tribulations Timpano dealt with during his playing days. There was the period when the curtain came down on the NSL in 2004 leaving uncertainty of what was next for football in Australia. For a host of players, including Timpano, it was a time they were in limbo. When he looks back on it now, Timpano admits it really was one of those crossroad times.

“[Being 17, 18] is a life stage that really makes or breaks a lot of players,” said Timpano.

“A lot of players in that time had to make choices on whether to hang around in Australia and wait in the hope of the A-League starting up, or pack their bags and go overseas.

“So I look back and think if I took the leap and went overseas my career could have taken a different path but I decided to stay and had the opportunity to win the inaugural A-League title with Sydney FC.

Another area Timpano reflects on in retrospect is the development and advancements that have been made in the injury prevention and sports science area of sport. Timpano thinks ‘what might have been’ if the knowledge, resources and expertise that is around now was available to him back in his hey day.

“I do look back at it and think if we had the sports science that is in the game now when I was coming through then I might not have found myself in the position I did injury wise,” said Timpano.

“But that’s the way the world works and I really like the emphasis that is put on the sports science and high performance aspect of the game now which is available to coaches because ultimately players need to stay on the park.”

Having gone through the trials he went through, Timpano does not mince his words when stating what message he would give current players today.

“Don’t take being a professional footballer for granted because as happens it could finish at any time,” said Timpano.

“In the back of your mind it’s important to think about what opportunities and what else you might be doing if you weren’t a professional footballer because I didn’t really do that and it came pretty rapidly so I had to adjust and find my feet.

“As the PFA do in encouraging players to study and look at work or other opportunities outside of football, when that time does come the transition is a lot smoother than sitting on your backside wondering what you’re going to do.”

“For me the PFA have always been there and a good support.”

“When I finished playing in the A-League the PFA helped me through a couple of courses, they were always a sounding board, so for me personally there was always that support there.”

Post playing

Once the realisation had sunk in that his life as a professional player was over, Timpano faced the situation all players face after their career…what now and how to make ends meet.

“I didn’t make a lot of money out of football when I was playing but once the time comes when you go from earning a full time wage to nothing at all, there is that pressure to find an income,” said Timpano.

“Like every player does when they finish playing, you go through a bit of that time where you don’t know what you’re doing or what you want to do.”

And it is here that Timpano’s unluckily brief playing career resulted in being to the betterment of others. Timpano’s career may have been cruelly cut short but there are a host of kids and aspiring young players from the Illawarra region who are thankful the 31 year olds football journey has played out the way it has.

“I did a bit of coaching on the side with kids and then my brother and I started up the SoccerMan business and I was also fortunate to have a good support network around me during that time.”

“I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason – that’s the motto I use anyway.”

“Then getting the opportunity to coach Wollongong Wolves (in the National Premier Leagues), a few things fell in place for me and I haven’t really looked back.”


Timpano is the first to admit that coaching was not an area of the game he had given much thought to growing up. However, when his hometown club Wollongong Wolves found themselves without a coach mid season and languishing near the bottom of the ladder in 2015, the club came calling to one of its favourite sons.

Timpano, who currently holds his B coaching Licence and has enrolled to do his A licence next year, accepted the role on an initial interim basis until the end of the season. The Wolves would go on to make the finals leading to Timpano signing a two year contract and he has agreed to go around again in 2018.

“Early on I never really had coaching in my mind,” said Timpano.

“It wasn’t until I stopped playing in the A-League and started coaching kids and doing a few coaching licences.

“Then the opportunity came up in 2015 (to coach Wollongong Wolves) which was probably a bit early for me but so far I think I’ve done ok in the role and am preparing to go around for my fourth season.”

“For a fairly young bloke I’ve built a fair bit of experience in the coaching ranks which is a positive.”


Timpano and his brother Matt established SoccerMan in 2012 as a fun and educational soccer program in childcare centres and preschools for 2-5 year olds. The SoccerMan name heralds from what the kids would often refer to the two brothers as when they turned up to kick the ball around with them.

“There are a few similar programs around but my brother is a childcare worker and my mum owns the centre so we’d spend a bit of time there and the kids would call us Soccer Man because we’d kick the ball with them,” said Timpano.

“So we thought we’d start something up as I didn’t have many work opportunities on the go at the time and it was something that interested us.”

Two years later they published a SoccerMan kids book based on the character and just recently developed and launched the SoccerMan mobile app.

What started in its infancy as a basic active football program for toddlers, Timpano admits he did not think SoccerMan would reach the stage it has.

“Initially it started purely with the coaching element, introducing 2-5 year olds to physical activity, and then as we built that part of the business we started looking at other avenues and markets to hit so we wrote a children’s book in 2014,” said Timpano.

“Locally the book was well received which led to us doing some merchandise around the book and then we came up with the idea of a mobile app.

“The world is heading down that technological path these days so we thought we’d keep up with things and have a bit of a point of difference and spread the wings a bit.

There is always an element of risk when starting up anything new, and Timpano is justifiably proud about how far SoccerMan has come.

“We definitely didn’t envisage that it was going to go that way but hopefully this is a springboard onto even bigger things.”

The SoccerMan app is available on the App Store and Google Play Store. For more information about SoccerMan, visit

The future

One thing that has helped Timpano throughout his life is the self motivation he has managed to maintain even through the hard times. Timpano believes that natural guidance and impetus on bringing the best out of others has held him in good stead.

“I think I’ve always had it in me. One thing I do believe I have is to want to help others, whether it’s coaching the kids, coaching seniors or doing other things,” said Timpano.

“I think I’ve always had that leadership in me. I started playing first grade in the national league at 16 and went on to captain most teams I played for so I think that bit of leadership and wanting to help others are two areas that pushes me along to do what I do.”

So what’s next for Timpano? Does he see himself leaving Wollongong anytime in the near future?

“I’ve got a wife and young daughter now, so together with the family and enjoying the SoccerMan business and testing myself out coaching at NPL level, it takes up plenty of time.”

“I’m still about getting experiences and who know what’s around the corner.”