We sat down with Sydney FC frontman Adam Le Fondre to discuss his footballing journey to date. Hear from the Englishman below...
Being a Manchester United fan, I had a few idols growing up. My first one that I can remember is Brian McClair, he was the first idol I had when I was about six or seven. When Eric Cantona joined United I did everything I could to imitate him, puffing my chest out, popping my collar, all the things like that to try and just learn from him. That air of arrogance he had, that swagger he had about him, I tried to get that into my game as a young boy and as I got a bit older Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was another of my heroes. He was such a good finisher and a good player as well. They were the three main ones really, and the Brazilian Ronaldo too, he was the best striker that’s ever played the game for me.
I’ve always played football, ever since I was two. I started playing properly, my first game, was when I was five. We’ve got that on video. It was my first game, my best mate and I playing two years above our age, you can see me as a little dot with a pair of trackies on underneath a pair of shorts.
My first professional contract was at Stockport County, I was there from nine years old and I played all the way through there until I was 19 or 20.
I’ve never thought I’ve made it as a footballer, it comes from something my Dad always said to me. Never be happy, never be happy with what you’ve got, at the end of your career you can be happy but I’m not finished yet, far from it, so I’ll never be satisfied until I’m finished.
The English Lower Leagues taught me that hard work conquers all. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work. I think it was a real eye opener for me because I took myself for granted when I was younger because I was scoring 20 goals each season easily. When I moved to Reading I realised that the hard work goes with goalscoring and makes you 10 times a better player. My work rate doubled, quadrupled, and turned me into the player I became.
My time in the Premier League was incredible, it was a dream. 12 months earlier I was playing, at the start of the season, at Rotherham playing League 2 football and fast forward 12 months I was starting against Stoke scoring a 90th minute equaliser. As you can imagine it’s a young boys dream to see themselves on Match of the Day on a Saturday night sat down with your family and take some sort of gratitude in that I was doing something well and achieving. It was an amazing journey for me.
All of it was a highlight, I was playing in the lower leagues 12 months before it, so it was all a highlight. But out of the goals I scored it would be scoring against United. Being a United boy, scoring against the team you love was special for me, the day after my birthday as well with all my family there. It was incredible, the only downside of it was that we weren’t able to stay up in the division. We had more than enough to do that but ultimately couldn’t do it in the end. It was a tough one really. After January, I got Player of the Month in January, we had a great January but we couldn’t sustain it through to March which was a crucial period.
My proudest moment is my wife and children, they’re the proudest things to me. Everything I do is geared towards them and giving them a successful life. With football everything I do is for them. To have them witness the whole journey, it’s amazing to be able to share it with them, they’ve been rocks for me and especially my wife. She’s been a rock for me in everything I’ve done and supported everything I’ve done. As a footballer, to play in the Premier League, to be talked about possibly getting in the England squad from humble beginnings is everything you dream of. To achieve that as a family and even coming out here is something that I’ve loved and I am loving.
I chose Sydney because they’re the biggest and best club in Australia, pretty simple really. I wanted to win things and at Bolton, but with the constraints, staying up on the final day, it was apparent I wouldn’t have the chance to win many trophies. Securing staying up on the final day though was something unbelievable and incredibly special, I didn’t think anything could top that, but Sydney FC is the chance for me to go out and win some proper silverware, play in the Champions League, and express myself in a different style.
My favourite goal, in terms of importance, was when I was with Reading playing Southampton away. It was my first goal there, I scored two that night, but my first one to make it 2-1. I won the ball in midfield, passed it and broke, I passed it out wide to Jimmy Kebe, and it arrived back to me just outside the penalty spot, maybe 12 yards out and I first time sidefooted it into the top corner. That game was the clincher for us to go back to the Premier League and the atmosphere was unbelievable. To score that goal was incredible.