If anyone has had a whirlwind of a career navigating the world of football, it’s West Adelaide’s Evan Kostopoulos.
The 31-year-old has come up against his fair share of challenges, namely those off the field.
“I had an agent who made some bad some bad decisions on my behalf and left me club-less. I guess if I didn’t have an agent, or if I had the right agent it would’ve been a different story. I basically had a number of offers at one point and the agent declined them all, promising another offer that wasn’t there,” he told Neos Kosmos.
“Within an instant I had a number of offers and before I knew it there was nothing there for me so my pro career probably should’ve gone a lot longer than it did.”
Kostopoulos had become accustomed to the harsh reality behind the glitz and glamour, but it didn’t take away from the mental toll it would have taken on any individual in his position. Throughout some of the toughest moments, his parents remained his number one fans.
“My parents have seen the ugly side of my sporting career where I dealt with things I didn’t want to…People are always around when you’re doing really well and things are rosy and you’re playing every week, but when you’re without a club and in another country doing nothing, no one seems to be there other than your parents,” Kostopoulos said.
Despite all of those challenges, Kostopoulos stayed hungry for soccer, returning to the team where it all started, but now as a young dad.
“I didn’t sleep for a couple of years, I’m finally sleeping again,” he laughed.
The centre back slash defensive midfielder talks looking out for the next generation, playing overseas and his goals before he hangs up hit boots.
What drew you to football?
It’s the first thing I discovered as a hobby from my father. It’s hard to tell, because there wasn’t really anything else. We were lucky enough to be part of a generation where we were just entering the current world where there are a million distractions.
We were lucky to have a bit of the back end of the old school where there wasn’t really much you could do other than play a sport, so mine was that one.
It’s game day, what do you do to get in the zone before the match?
Now I’m not too prepared actually. I’m rushing, or my mind’s on work or my kids so times have changed. If you asked me that question every five years it will change, but now not a lot.
I guess when you get older, you use your brain more than physically preparing. I just try and keep everything out of my head other than the game for the last 10, 15 minutes before the game starts. I’m pretty relaxed these days.
Top 3 training songs?
I’ve got some Spanish ones I’ve always listened to because I inherited them from ex-teammates. I couldn’t tell you what they’re called but they sound really good.
What do you find most challenging about the game?
The game’s changed, there’s a lot of pressure with social media and everyone’s sort of in competition with each other. It’s strange for players my age because we were in between the new generation and the back end of the old-school. We got a bit of a mix.
I loved the old-school, it was just no nonsense football, whereas now there’s so many pressures, it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not these days with social media. That pressure is something I don’t like. It takes the organic side of the game away.
What has been a highlight in your sporting career thus far?
Probably playing for my hometown would be the first one. I always wanted to play for [Adelaide] United and I got the opportunity. Playing overseas, got that opportunity as well. Playing in the Asian Champions League which is the highest level I guess in terms of Asia/Australasia.
How has football impacted your life?
It’s been great. I’ve seen a lot of the ugly side of sport, which you could tell from my previous answer. It awakens you to the real world quite early. You’re 19, 20, just wanting to kick a ball and you’re open to a bit of corruption and other things that come into play that you didn’t think existed.
It just matures you quite early, I’m thankful for that because I learnt a lot of things I wouldn’t have until now. There’s other things that I bring into business now which are the basics; discipline, persistence and the basic fundamentals of being good at anything. Sports brings that out of you early.
What is something you learned about yourself through playing the game?
I guess I’ve learnt how much I persevere, even in crappy times. It taught me to not give up. That’s it in a nutshell, it’s given me the determination to keep going no matter what happens in life.
What do you hope to achieve in the next year?
It’s probably not sports related. I’m at the point in my career where I’m happy to be playing, especially at the club that I started at a long time ago. That in itself is a highlight for me, the fact that I am playing. If I can win something with this group before I retire, it would be an awesome way to hang the boots up.
What’s something someone might be surprised to learn about you?
I like reading! I read a lot. I would recommend Limitless by Jim Kwik.
Favourite way to unwind after a game?
Just seeing my kids, I want to see them straight after a game and probably have a beer.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021?
Just achieving as much as I can, both on the field and off the field. Winning a league. Obviously I’ve got my business goals. Everyone’s got their own little goals that they set, so if I can achieve most of them or all of them, both football related and non football related then that’d be great.
On the football side of course, to win something would be awesome.
What is something you want to be remembered by?
I guess as someone who wants to do everything the right way, whether that means selflessly doing that. I guess the answer to that is I don’t really care if I’m remembered or not, I just want to do the right thing.
Sometimes you can get remembered for the wrong things too, so I just want to do the right thing. If people want to remember me for that all good but I guess that kind of contradicts doing things selflessly.