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Christian Theoharous – the skills of the father are the skills of the son

Greek-Cypriot Australian Christian Theoharous' A-League career has only just begun, but his speed, dribbling and ability to take players on has Australian football fans excited at the winger's potential

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22 December 2017

Theoharous has been part of Melbourne Victory's youth set up since 2014 and made his senior professional debut in round 24 of the 2016-17 A-League season at age 17.

His father was born in Pegia, Cyprus while his mother was born in Australia to Greek-born parents. Football was in the blood with Christian's father Andrew Theoharous making his debut in the former National Soccer League (NSL) for Heidelberg. After the NSL's demise, he played for Bentleigh Greens and captained them for a decade.

So, it's no surprise to learn that when Christian was six years old he also joined Bentleigh Greens.

After making his A-League debut he feels proud that both he and his dad have played football in Australia at the highest level.

"It's pretty amazing," says the 18-year-old. "A lot of people say he was a very good and very passionate footballer."

And Theoharous revealed that the many hours honing his skills with the help of his father is the reason he has amassed such impressive attacking attributes.

"I'm a very positive player," he says. "I'm not afraid to play against anyone. I back myself. There has been a lot of hard work behind the scenes. Since I was little, my dad has taught me a few tricks and skills I have kept with me that I also practice. I like to play with freedom and to express myself on the field and confidence is also a very big factor."

After Bentleigh Greens, Theoharous joined the Victorian state team, then was part of the senior Skillaroos for a year, before moving to the National Training Centre until he was offered a gig with Melbourne Victory.

While he has only started his journey in senior football, Theoharous' performances have seen him receive many plaudits and rave reviews. Much of the hype is down to his ability to get fans off their seat but the teenager isn't buying into the talk that he is the next big thing in Australian football.

"I don't look into that too much. I just go out there and play football," he says.

"It's obviously a confidence boost. But I haven't really achieved anything yet. I'm still really young. It can only take you so far. Representing the biggest club in Australia and playing with some of the best players in Australia is huge. Even the likes of Leroy George taking me under his wing, Besart Berisha,
James Troisi, and Carl Valeri, they all help me and they want the best out of me. I couldn't ask for anything more."

After achieving his childhood ambitions by playing senior football last season, this term Theoharous is looking to get more game time.

"It's just something that I have always dreamt of doing. I was a Victory supporter when I was little and I always wanted to play for Victory," he says.

"My dad has always pushed me and has always wanted the best out of me. I get most of my motivation from my dad and my mum. I do it for myself, but I also do it for my family as well.
"I don't want to let anyone down – my family and everyone at the club too.
"So, this season my goals were just to get more minutes, because I barely got any last year, and just break into the team. This season I started off well and I came off the bench in the first game, and as a result I also had representing Australia in the back of my mind."

Theoharous' dream of representing his country came to fruition only months later when the teenager was part of the Young Socceroos squad that qualified for next year's Asian Cup in Indonesia.

"It was a dream come true," Christian says of playing for Australia's U20 national team.
"At any level, to represent your country is a good chance to show scouts too: you never know who is watching wherever you play. I've been enjoying my football a lot lately.
"The first game we played was against North Korea and then the second game was against Vietnam and we won both of them.
"I really, really like playing under our coach Ufuk Talay. I have a good relationship with him. He's pretty inspiring and pretty motivating."

Next year's Asian Cup doubles up as the qualifiers for the 2017 U20 World Cup in Korea.

Australia has missed out on qualifying in recent years and Theoharous is determined to show his skills on the world stage.

"Obviously we don't want to be remembered for the group not making it," he says. "We want to be remembered for the group that got as far as they could and who gave it all that they've got. It would good for football in Australia if we can qualify and hopefully we can build on what we have achieved so far."

As well as making his A-League debut last term, Theoharous also produced an impressive display when Melbourne Victory played a friendly against La Liga giants Atletico Madrid last year.

But the highlight of this season was when the 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw against Brisbane Roar in Round six and changed the match.

Theoharous' 15-minute cameo saw the teenager set up the opening goal of the game, and he revealed that having the belief of Victory coach Kevin Muscat made the moment even more special.

"The game against Brisbane at home at Etihad Stadium was memorable," he says. "No-one actually knows the behind the scenes story about that. I just came back from representing Australia in Vietnam on the weekend and Kevin put me in the squad.
"The game against Brisbane was on the Saturday and I came back on the Friday, and before the game the coach called me and said, 'how are you feeling? How were your games? We might use you on the weekend'. I didn't train with the team at all that whole week, so I was glad that the coach still trusted me and I was happy to have changed the game when I came on."

For many young attacking players trying to get their breakthrough in the A-League is especially difficult as international players tend to fill those roles. But Theoharous says he isn't fazed by the competition for places.

"Anywhere in the world it is difficult to break in at a young age," he says. "It's all about working hard and training hard. You need to show the coach that you want to improve every day and when the chance comes, to grab it with both hands and not to overthink it. You're there for a reason. You're there because you are good enough. That's all."

Like all Australian youngsters, representing the Socceroos is an aspiration but Theoharous isn't thinking too far ahead.

"One step at a time," he says "I have represented Australia at U20 level. The next step is U23 and from there hopefully grab a spot in the Socceroos. But I really just want to concentrate on my club career and that will come after.
"This season at Melbourne Victory we want to win the championship. As a team we aim high and for me personally, I want to get as much game time as I can and to help the team win the A-League."

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