The 2021 Victorian NPL season kicks off this Friday, with many teams and fans alike excited to get back to the game they so dearly love after missing out last year due to the pandemic.

This week Neos Kosmos chats to Heidelberg United midfielder Anthony Theodoropoulos (aka Theo), who returned to the team in 2019 after stints with NPL’s Melbourne City, Dandenong City and Kingston City.

The young midfielder has come to find his perfect club, nodding at the club’s sense of community.

“Compared to other clubs, I’ve found everyone’s really close. Not just the players and the coaching staff, it’s everyone; the committee, the board, everyone in the canteen. Everyone knows each other, is always there having a chat and its a place where you enjoy going. The boys will go there an hour before training starts just to sit and chat with each other,” Theo said.

The 21-year-old has been tying up his football boots from the age of seven and is working his way to stepping out onto the A-League pitches, keeping his father’s advice in mind.

“Be persistent, keep trying and if things don’t work out keep your head up and just keep trying.”

Theo talks making the FFA Cup finals, keeping his head in the game and having no regrets after leaving the field.

Photo: Mark Avellino

READ MORE: From AUS to USA and back! Q&A with Canberra United’s Demi Koulizakis

What drew you to football?

It was exciting! Playing with your mates and getting out and about doing something different.

It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?

I relax and I try not to take it too seriously. I just play around with the ball and take it easy.

Top 3 training songs?

I wouldn’t have an idea! I only really listen during the pre-game when we all gee ourselves up a little bit, but I’m not too sure otherwise.

What do you find most challenging about the game?

It’s a challenge, but it’s also a good part, the competitiveness that we’ve got at the team. Everyone’s really pushing each other to play. It’s about giving more. We all know we’re all good players and there’s times where we know we can give better than what we are giving. We expect more from ourselves and demand that.

What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?

When I was at Northcote we made the final round of 32 in the FFA Cup, that stands out to me, that was pretty exciting.

Anthony Theo Photo: Heidelberg United Facebook

How has football impacted your life?

In a lot of good ways. I love the sport, I love playing. It takes priority and gets my mind off of everything else, so whenever I’m tired that’s all I’m thinking about, even when I’m not playing I’m thinking about it.

What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?

When you’ve finished a session, or the game is over, don’t have any regrets. Make sure you leave it on the field because you can’t go back and change it.

When you finish a game you tend to go, ‘oh I should’ve done this, or only if I did that’ but I guess that also works with everything else in life too.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

I’d like to win the league and win trophies. That’s why I came to Heidelberg, that’s what I want to do, that’s what we all want to do. Football is my life at the moment.

What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?

I used to live in Adelaide! I was really young though.

Photo: Mark Avellino

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

To be fair there’s not much I’m doing, I like hanging with the boys. If we win, everyone’s up and about all together. Sometimes we go out after, but games are on Sunday’s so it’s pretty chill afterward because of work the next day.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Just playing in the NPL. We’ve had a year off so everyone is keen to get back out there and start playing again. I missed the environment, it sounds a bit cheesy, but just the culture at the club and having the boys around training and getting a good kick in. It takes a toll and you start missing it.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

I just want to be a creative and entertaining player to watch. You get a thrill from all the fan who have come to watch and seeing the crowd jump up when the team gets a goal. Seeing them get behind us, it gives us that little bit extra. Off the field, I just want to be known as a good person to be around.

How did COVID-19 impact your game? 

Coming back from COVID, everyone’s touch was a bit off but everyone put in the work to keep fit over the break. Those first couple of sessions were a bit rusty, but our strength coaches gave us running programs over the break so everyone kept going and kept fit. A couple of the boys even went back home interstate to keep training.