There is almost no part of the Mediterranean that Hume City winger Theo Markelis hasn’t touched.

The 29-year-old has found his final football perch at the Broadmeadows NPL club, joining six years ago. Before committing his loyalty there, he had made quite the reputation for himself in Europe.

“I played in Europe for about six years. I played in Valencia for three years, I played in Italy for two years and I was in Greece for a year as well. I was also at Melbourne Victory in the A-League for a season, that was a very good experience too,” Markelis told Neos Kosmos.

Markelis was picked up by the Spaniards at the very young age of 15. Once he was given the green light, he was all go, go, go!

“I left home young, mum was upset,” Markelis said.

“Mum had come with me for the first couple of months. I had gone on trial there previously and they said they wanted to sign me, so I had to come back and wait for my Greek passport. As soon as I got that, I left. When I first went over there to live, mum came with me for about a month or two just so I could settle in and then I was alone from then on.”

After playing across southern Europe, Markelis returned home and began making a name for himself on home soil.

Of course, his choice to join Hume City begged the question; With all these Greek clubs, why make your mark with a Turkish club? His answer was plain and simple.

“For me, it doesn’t really matter what nationality you are, they’ve played me enough which is why I’m one of their most loved players. I’ve done everything for that club and they’ve done everything for me to be quite honest. It’s that loyalty for me.”

Markelis’ loyalty is as unwavering as his love and admiration for his family who supported him at every leg of his career.

“I always wanted to make them proud,” he said.

Markelis talks his lifelong friendship with Real Madrid’s Isco, his multilingual skills and the way football has impacted his life.

Former Melbourne Victory player Theo Markelis  contests the ball against Cassio of Adelaide United in 2012 Photo: AAP/Joe Castro

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What drew you to football?

I was about four or five years old. I have an older brother who’s two years older than me and watching him play from a young age made me want to play too. That’s what inspired me.

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

I don’t usually have a routine. When I wake up I have some breakfast, like a piece of toast and then have a coffee. I’d only eat once or twice before the game to be honest, I don’t want to feel too heavy.

It all starts from the night before, drinking your water and all. I have a coffee in the morning and a coffee before the game to get me going. In preparation for a game, I’ll have a short black, no frappedes.

Top three training songs?

It depends on the day really. Sometimes it’s Greek music, zeibekika get me going, or any other Greek music. Then you’ve got your RnB.

What do you find most challenging about the game?

It’s hard to say, now that I’m getting older so the game’s changed a bit, it’s a bit more physically demanding compared to when I first started in the NPL. Back then it was more about technical ability…It’s still the same but you have to be a bit more of an athlete I guess. That’s the most demanding part.

I’m that type of player that is technical and loves the ball to feet. To stay at the level that I am I have to train harder to be there.

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

When I was at Valencia, I made one of my best mates. His name is Isco, he plays for Real Madrid. We still speak to this day. Before COVID I had gone to Madrid, to his house. When I was in Valencia, we actually shared the same room in the complex. His family is from Málaga, from the south of Spain, and they ended up moving to Valencia to live. So he asked me ‘Do you want to come with me and live with my family?’ I said ‘yes, of course’.

I was with him for about a year and a half to two years, then he obviously went on and exceeded to become who he is. Being mates with a player like that is unreal. The funny thing is that he named his son after me.

Being at Valencia was a big eye opener and Melbourne Victory was great as well playing in front of 50,000 people at Etihad stadium was a dream come true.

Another highlight would have to be playing for the under 20s with the Socceroos.

How has football impacted your life?

It’s been my life. It’s always what I’ve wanted to do from a young age. Sometimes things don’t go your way but I’d never change anything. Football has made me who I am today, in terms of living, growing up, being in countries doing and everything by yourself. I couldn’t see myself without it. Even if I stopped playing, I’d get into coaching or something related.

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

You have to be mentally strong. You could be up one day, and then all of a sudden everything can fall back down. It’s mental, you have to be strong minded and even when things go bad you need to keep having that belief in yourself to get back up. That’s something that football helps you do.

What do you hope to achieve in the next year?

Hopefully win a championship with Hume City. That’s the main goal right now. Before the last season got cancelled we had won the Dockerty Cup, but the aim is to win a title. Hume’s never won one, but I think we’re in a good position to do so. That’s the main focus.

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

People probably don’t know I speak four languages (English, Greek, Spanish and Italian)! That includes Italian as well because I had lived there for two years.

Favourite way to unwind after a game?

I just love hanging out with my family and friends.

What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Not having this COVID situation to be honest. It’s been a lot of this stop-start, stop-start, it just plays around with everything; your body, how you train, how you prepare. You’re playing one week and the next you’re going back into lockdown again. It would be nice to have a nice, straight run through to finish the season.

What is something you want to be remembered by?

A lot of people know me in the soccer world and they know that I was always that person to win a game for the team. I was always the one that stepped up to the big occasions, if that makes sense. That’s what everyone knows me for.