Not many footballers make their professional debut in the Champions League ahead of their domestic league, but for Sky Blue youngster Chris Zuvela that’s exactly how it transpired.
The 21 year old midfielder stepped out in front of nearly 25,000 fans in Japan before travelling home to make his Hyundai A-League debut at Central Coast Stadium in a whirlwind rise from the Foxtel National Youth League.
Zuvela has spent the best part of five years in Sydney FC’s youth set up, and credited his upbringing in that environment under Youth Head Coach Rob Stanton for where his is today.
“I’ve been involved with the club for about four or five years, I’ve been the youth team for a very long time so I was thankful for the chance [to make my debut],” Zuvela said.
“Being in the youth set up for a while has helped me a bit, especially being under Rob, he’s helped me be the player that I am and helped me get to where I am now.
“I’ve seen myself develop a lot since I started at Sydney FC,” he continued.
“Obviously from youth to first grade is a massive difference physically and technically and I’ve seen a lot of positive change in myself with this step up.”
Zuvela said he was thrilled at making his domestic and continental debuts, adding that sticking to what Head of High Performance Andrew Clark tells him has paid off, while he said he’s confident of retaining his place in Josh Brillante’s absence.
“I was pretty pleased, I’d been waiting for this for a very long time and I’m glad that the boss gave me a chance,” Zuvela said.
“The Champions League was a massive milestone for me. Playing in front of nearly 25,000 fans, it was big, it was a big club to play against too so it was good.
“It was something I’ll always remember, I was very happy with that.
“As long as I get on the park I’ll be happy, it doesn’t matter what competition,” he continued.
“I just do what Clarky tells me at training, work harder and get physically stronger and that’s helped me adapt to the step up.
“I’m confident of keeping my spot while Josh is away, doing my job for the club, the boss and the squad and I’d love to try and get myself a starting spot in the team and play consistently week in week out going forward, those are my goals for the future.”
Sydney FC travel to face Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Thursday night (kick off 9:30pm AEDT) with one hand on the Hyundai A-League Premiers Plate. Get to the Sky Blues’ Official Home Away from Home to see the squad make history and back your Sky Blues.
Sydney FC travel to face Perth Glory away on Thursday 29 March (kick off 9:30pm AEDT). Tune in on Fox Sports 501 or join like-minded Sky Blues' fans, back the squad, and watch us make history from our Official Home Away from Home at The Star, Sydney.