25-year-old Perry Lambropoulos has never been too far from the football pitch and like many seasoned players, started kicking the ball around in his backyard.

The South Melbourne FC defender returns for his third season with the club and feels a connection to his current team that some of his fellow teammates may not have the history to understand.

“They’ve [the club] been very good to me. As a Greek player playing for a club I always looked up to and with a family that supported the club as well, so playing for them is a huge privilege. There aren’t many people that are currently in the squad the understand what it means to play for the club so I try to explain it from time to time. they didn’t grow up with it so it’s a bit different,” Lambropoulos told Neos Kosmos.

Lambropoulos got to playing with his beloved team through following the best advice he’s been given, “work hard, harder and harder”.

Of course, to do so he had countless coaches and mentors along the way, however there was one in particular who he found to be the Mr Miyagi to his Karate Kid.

“There’s been one coach that’s helped me pretty much from start to finish. His name is Sam Meyer, he was also a coach at South Melbourne many years ago. He’s been my Mr Miyagi to football I would say. He’s been guiding me through my footballing journey from start to present,” Lambropoulos said.

“His experience, his history, he’s learnt from some of the best coaches in the world over in Germany and he just puts football into the simplest form and explains it to you so it’s just a simple game…It’s literally how Mr Miyagi breaks down and explains the karate tricks.”

The seasoned NPL player talks football in Australia, striving for the silverware and versatility on the pitch.

READ MORE: From the school yard to Melbourne Victory: Q&A with midfielder Paige Zois

What drew you to football?

I think my family really. My dad and his brother were always involved in football. I mean, growing up my dad was coaching so I was always around the field. It was pretty much the only sport I knew as a young kid.

Then I went straight into grassroots football playing at Port Melbourne as a junior and then it took off from there. I was about nine or 10 when it started getting serious with comps and games against other clubs but I was always just mucking around in the backyard by myself.

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

Before a game I usually just like to relax, have a coffee, chill at home, nothing too much in terms of a routine that I do. It’s just whatever I’m feeling on the day so I just try to keep as calm as possible, to relax and enjoy it so I can look forward to playing on match day.

Top 3 training songs?

I like a bit of old school RnB and some new stuff as well. Probably a bit of Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, Drake, anything will do.

What do you find most challenging about the game?

Always staying on your toes and wanting to improve. Just always looking to improve week on week, game by game. If you can challenge yourself every week to want to improve, to give yourself the cutting edge on match day and at training, I think that’s the biggest challenge.

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

I guess when I 20, I travelled to Belgium. I was lucky enough to go on a trial overseas for a few weeks. Unfortunately that didn’t work out and I know a lot of other Aussie kids who have tried making it overseas but it’s just that difficult over there, the standard is that good that Aussie kids are returned back home.

While I was playing at Oakleigh I got scouted online. Someone had seen me and sent it to a friend of his that was based overseas. He messaged me, it all happened really quickly, I got on a plane, headed over to Belgium and I was there for 10 days or so with the second division team.

How has football impacted your life?

It’s been a good impact. It’s challenged me, mentally and physically, so I’m always trying to be in the best physical shape I can be which is also good for a day-to-day lifestyle. I’m always fit and healthy which is a positive.

It’s also impacted me with some of the friends I’ve made throughout the journey. I’ve played at a fair few clubs in the NPL so I’ve been able to create some good friendships both at previous clubs and my current club now at South Melbourne, so that’s definitely a positive change I would say, in my life.

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

To be disciplined and listening to instructions, I know that might seem like a pretty simple one or a pretty easy one but when you’ve had a different variety of coaches over your playing career and they’re all asking for different things you’ve got to be able to take that information on board and adapt and change. Being able to do that is critical.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

Definitely some silverware. Nothing in terms of a personal goal at the moment in my playing career, but as a collective unit at South the goal is for some silverware. That’s the aim for 2021 and hopefully we can get that over the line.

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

I’m an accountant by trade. As much as I love football, I do like numbers as well, it’s a strange topic of conversation when you get to the football ground. I just like business and numbers and understanding the numbers. I’ve been around small business for a while coming out of high school into uni, so I thought I’d pursue that passion through accounting.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

I don’t know, sometimes it’s really hard to unwind after a game. You’re up until one, two, three in the morning playing the game over in your head but I guess a movie or just relaxing. Trying to forget about what happened whether it was a bad result or a good result and you just concentrate on the next week.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Winning games, playing football, success and hopefully, like I said before, some silverware for the club which would be massive for us, that’s what we’re looking forward to the most and pushing ourselves to the absolute limit.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

A hard worker and a versatile footballer. I’ve always known that about myself, that I can do any job at any position so whether the coach needs me to do one role one day or another the next, I’m always putting my hands up to be there for the team at any given time.