One A-League Premiership, one A-League Championship and over 150 games for Melbourne Victory, nothing is left to chance in his pursuit of success. Ahead of their clash with Western Sydney Wanderers Adrian Leijer takes the PFA through his preparation ahead of a match. From his usual meal the night before to what boot he puts on first.

Few footballers prepare in the same way. Some like to keep it relaxed wary of ‘playing the game’ before it has kicked-off. Others focus intently in the days leading up to a match going over repeatedly what they need to do with and without the ball.

The reason for preparing in whatever way is simple–  they believe it gives them the best chance of succeeding. Most acknowledge that it is no guarantee of ensuring a top performance but it is about leaving nothing to chance.

Melbourne Victory defender and PFA Executive Adrian Leijeris no different. The pre-match routine is all about making sure he is ready to give his best. In the build-up to the Victory’s clash with Western Sydney Wanderers Leijer shares with the PFA his pre-match routine ahead of a home match, starting with the final training session.

The Final Training Session

“The morning of our last session before the game we have a video outlining what to expect from the opposition. We then go out to training and work on a few things. The main thing we focus on is how we are going to play but we also look at what they going to do and how we can stop them.

“After the session is over we head in to do our recovery, which is aimed at making sure you feel your best for the game. This means ice baths, hydrating and for some getting a massage or some treatment from the physio. This is the key time to start getting the body feeling its best for the game the next day.”

Heading Home After the Session

“I try and switch off and relax. I think if you think about things too much your mind goes into overdrive. I like to get home and put my feet up and start hydrating. You want to make sure that on game day you only need to top up your fluid levels. Sometimes I might have a bit of a nap but the main thing I try to do is put my feet up and get as much rest as I can.”

The night before the game

“I eat the same thing every night before a game. I have a chicken pesto pasta, which I make the night before every game. It is actually a Novak Djokovic recipe, which I started using pre-season and have kept up that habit. If there is a game on I try to catch that otherwise I might put a movie on, just generally whatever the missus fancies.

“I tend to keep things normal and just head off to bed around the normal sort of time. You want to keep things as normal as possible otherwise you might get a bit burnt out before the game has even started.”

Game Day Morning

“On game day I prefer a bit of a sleep in but because you are in such a routine during the week I usually tend to wake up around normal time. Every day of the game me and Leigh Broxham head into the club and go for a swim and an ice bath. If anything it kills a bit of time and you can get out of the house and get a bit of a loosen-up.

“That is a ritual we have got into, to head into the club and start to prepare for the evening. It is pretty casual. We don’t talk too much about the game. I try to keep it relaxed until once we have the pre-match meeting at the ground that is when I start switching on.”

Pre-Match Meeting

“We go over what we spoke about the day before but we try to make it a bit shorter than the day before just to try to re-cap a couple of things that we need to be mindful of. Some people like to be pretty relaxed right up until kick-off I tend to try to focus once we have had the meeting and get the body right for what is ahead.”

Getting Ready to Go Out For the Warm-Up

“During the week I start to think about the strikers I’m going to mark and when I’m getting ready to go out for the warm-up I go back over this. I think about who you are coming up against and what their strengths are, what kind of runs they make and the threats they possess. You also try to keep in mind the importance of set pieces and what your role is and off course you keep in mind the way we want to play and your role within the team, with and without the ball. You don’t want to sit and think about things too much otherwise it can all become clouded.

“I only really have the one superstitious thing when I am getting ready and that is putting my left boot on first. I’m not too sure where that came from but it is something I always do before a game.”

 The Warm-Up

“Everyone is different in the intensity they warm-up at. The great things about where we play and the fans we have is that some days if you are feeling flat or you are under the weather or something like that you go out in front of our fans and they lift you straight away.

“Once you get out there your body knows it is time to go to work and you start switching on. When you come off the pitch and head back into the sheds you want to feel 100 per cent ready to go.”

Final Preparations in the Change Rooms

“You need to be ready to go then. You have to know your teammates and know who needs to stay relaxed and who you might need to fire up a little bit. By that stage I’m usually pretty switched on. The coach might give us some final encouragement but most of the talking has been done and everyone is focusing on their jobs and making sure they are ready to go as soon as we step onto the pitch.”

Coming Out Onto the Pitch

“The best moment is when you are standing in the tunnel and the fans can’t see you but you can see them and the excitement starts to build and you can’t wait to get out there and get on with it. This what all the preparation has been about and why you leave no stone unturned. This is what all the hard work is all about.”