The shining star of Skapetis
Peter Skapetis talks about living and playing football in the UK, and reflects on his time at his boyhood club South Melbourne
Shortly after the signing of former South Melbourne winger Francesco Stella to AC Siena in the Serie A of Italy last year comes another great story from the Oceania Team of the Century with lifelong South Melbourne junior and supporter Peter Skapetis signing a two-and-half-year contract at the Centre of Excellence as a First Year Scholar with London English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers.
The 17-year-old was last year linked to English championship club Birmingham City, where he held an apprenticeship contract with the club. This involved training and playing with the Blues youth team while also going to school and working around the club but he ended up being offered a professional contract with an English Premier League club and Peter accepted the offer with both hands.
We met up at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex where South Melbourne were playing Bentleigh Greens as he took his last chance to say hello to some old friends before jetting back to the UK for preseason training. He was in a reflective mood as he spoke about his boyhood club:
"I played my whole junior career with South Melbourne and I owe a lot to the club, I loved my time there and developed lifelong friendships with all my team mates and my coaches. I was captain all the way through and over the years we acquired the best team having something like eight of the starting 11 all in the Victorian state system, it was a great squad to be a part of and a great club to play for.
"I have now moved on to QPR and the facilities at QPR are fantastic. It's always great to be part of that professional environment and being in and around the first team every day really inspires you and gives you something to work towards. Every day is structured really well combining football, gym and schooling."
He also talked about the change of living in London:
"It's a big change living in another city especially away from your family but I guess it's what I've got to do to succeed and it's for the better. The lifestyle is the same it's just a busier version of Melbourne. Also catching public transport for me was a new thing and of course homesickness is probably the hardest part of being away. "
Living away from his family and friends has been the greatest sacrifice and the biggest challenge about playing sport internationally, but he says: "It's the hard that makes it great."
Peter trains 36 hours a week, Monday to Friday, and plays scheduled games every Saturday, with a recovery session the following day.
"To give you a brief run down, training consists of plenty of ball work focusing on technique, which they place a lot of importance on in the English game, structured drills, set pieces and small sided games to enhance game awareness and sharpness." A lot of importance is also placed on strength and conditioning, combining cardiovascular training and strength work. Peter hopes to further his education, majoring in Sports Science after he graduates.
Peter aims to progress to the First Team for Queens Park Rangers in the next 12 months and hopefully one day soon, win an English Premier League title. He'd also like to play for Australia and captain the Socceroos to a World Cup Championship.
"Wearing the green and gold and representing my country would be a great honour."
In my time working in football I have never met a more professional driven young footballer in Peter Skapetis. He was eating, training, living and thinking like a professional from an early age and he is a testament to any aspiring footballer of what it entails to become a professional footballer.
We wish Peter the very best in reaching his dream as a professional player in Europe and look forward following his career closely.
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