You know you have made an impact in your first game when a coach of the calibre of John van’t Schip proudly admits he was blown away by the performance of left-back Craig Goodwin in last week’s Melbourne derby. Goodwin almost became the ultimate hero after a man of the match performance when his glorious long range shot was heading for the top corner only to be saved by a top class finger nails effort by Victory Goalkeeper Ante Covic.
The Dutch coach had nothing but praise for the 20 year old left back, “Craig Goodwin played very well. I’m surprised that he did that well,” van’t Schip said. “But knowing his qualities, his touch, his crossing, his mobility, I didn’t have big doubts about him. The next games are different though. “It wasn’t a difficult choice because we’ve seen him for the whole year (in the youth team) and he’s made great progress.
“Where I come from (Holland) we try to make it simple and if a left full back is injured we look at the left back from the youth team. If he’s not ready we won’t play him, but we had the impression he was.
“He’s been training with us, I told him before the Wellington game (last week) to prepare, but we told him he would be starting the day before the game.”
Another admirer is former Australian soccer international Craig Foster who lavished praise on the former winger and the Oakleigh Cannons for playing their part in helping the development of the exciting young talent. The man who gave him his chance at Oakleigh Canons was their former head coach and current Newcastle Jets assistant coach Arthur Papas. Goodwin moved to the Cannons before the last Victorian Premier League season from his native South Australia, to take his game to the next level. He played an important part in the Cannon’s run to the VPL final, scoring the winner against South Melbourne in week two of the finals, and was taken to Heart with Arthur Papas when he took on his brief stint as assistant coach to John Aloisi late last year.
Foster makes the point clubs must scour the local league for outstanding talent before breaking the bank with expensive overseas players. But Foster, who is also a senior football analyst and news reader for SBS television, was scathing about A-League clubs who continue to sign below-standard imported players instead of promoting young talent like Goodwin, whom he described as “composed and intelligent”.
“I would say 70 per cent of imports at A-League level are well below standard,” he said. “It’s an indictment on the recruiting of some clubs and I’ve been screaming out for years for Australian kids to get promoted because you find kids like Goodwin who is a wonderful talent.”
Goodwin had twice trialled with Adelaide United but had failed to earn a contract, something Foster was also critical of. “Clubs have a lot of work to do – we need to ask why he fell through Adelaide’s net,” he said.
“Sydney FC is the same – they have missed 15-20 local prospects. “We have a small playing population and there are not as many Goodwins’ out there; we can’t afford for one talent to miss out.”
Foster also praised the Heart’s Youth League for its integration with its senior side. “They have a very good model for all Australian clubs because they train with the same methods and use the same system so it makes the transition for young players much smoother.”
This again shows there is some outstanding talent in the Victorian Premier League. Nick Kalmar, Mate Dugandzic, Matthew Leckie, and Francesco Stella are also examples of players that were playing in our Victorian leagues only recently and now are future stars of the game with some already in Europe. You don’t always have to be very young either! Dino Djulbic and Sasha Ognenovski are examples of players who were in their mid 20s playing in the Victorian Premier League before being given a chance to play in the A League and now both have become stars in the bigger leagues in Asia.
There is a message here to all club recruiters: look in your back yard, potential diamonds are lying in wait if you are prepared to search hard and develop properly.