When Dimi Petratos joined his younger brother Kosta at the Jets for the upcoming A-League season, a brotherly reunion soon turned into a Petratos family invasion when siblings Makis and Pana followed them to Newcastle.
Dimi, 24, is the oldest and in his eighth A-League campaign, making him the more experienced member of the footballing family. Kostas Petratos, 19, is next in line to make the breakthrough and over the last two seasons has risen up through the ranks at Perth Glory where he made his senior debut in 2016.
Pana Petratos, 18, was a member of Sydney FC 2016-17 W-League campaign and this season joined the Jets on a scholarship. Makis Petratos, 17, is not far behind them and part of Newcastle’s National Youth League squad after being with Central Coast Mariners last term.
The four Petratos siblings reside in the Newcastle suburb of Hamilton in New South Wales and Dimi told Neos Kosmos it’s comforting to have his brothers and sisters in one place.
“It’s good to be all together,” he says. “It’s important to have family around. For the last few years we’ve been at different places. I was in Brisbane and then Korea and before he came to Newcastle, Kosta was in Perth while my little brother Makis and my sister Pana were at home. It’s fun to have us all in one place and it’s been really good to see everyone together again.
“We’ve grown up just playing soccer our whole lives. We played in the backyard a lot, two versus two and three versus three. You put in the hard work and you try and get as high as you can. It’s good to see that we’re all playing football at this level.”
Dimi’s football career has been greatly influenced by his dad and says that from a young age the Petratos family’s journey through life would be heavily influenced by football.
“He’s had a very big impact,” he says. “From very young he has always been there teaching us different things along the way. He spent a lot of time doing little drills in the backyard and taking us to training. He’s always been there for us, and my mum as well.
“Now we are all at Newcastle my parents come up whenever we have a home game and stay the night. They also come to see us when we play in Sydney or on the Central Coast. So, it’s exciting that we still get to see them on weekends and they’re happy that we’re all together at last.”
Not content with just four members of the Petratos family at one club at the same time, Dimi revealed his younger sister Anastasia is also eager to join her brothers and sister at the Jets.
“If they sign her for a 10-year deal maybe!” he joked. “No, she’s only 10 and still has school but when the time is right, she’ll come up as well. She’s pretty good. Hopefully in a few years’ time, another six or seven years or even less, she’ll be good enough.”
Dimi made his professional debut with Sydney FC when he was just 17 and has firsthand experience in trying to make it as a young player in the A-League. Younger brother Kosta has made gradual progress playing nine games with Perth Glory in two seasons, and according to Dimi, it won’t be long before they are playing together at the Jets this season.
“I definitely believe that I’ll get to play with Kosta this year,” he says. “It’s exciting. We’ve always wanted to play together. I just tell him you have to keep working hard at training. You’ve got to be very patient.
“Everyone has been through that stage where sometimes you’re playing and sometimes you’re not. So, you just have to wait your turn. You’ve got to show the coach that you’re focused even if you’re playing or not playing. To be able to show that when you do get the chance you can go on the field and do the job.”
It won’t be the first time Dimi has played senior football with a fellow Petratos family member. When he was 16, he was teammates with his father Angelo, who, played with his son at Sydney Olympic in the NSW Premier League. If Dimi, Kosta, and Makis can all play on the field together for Newcastle, the Petratos’ would surely have created a new Australian sporting father-son-brother playing record, and the senior Jet is confident they can make it happen.
“That’s the main goal,” Dimi says. “It’ll be good if we could all play together at some stage. I’ve also told Makis to work hard and try and make his way to the first team. I’ve told him the same as Kosta; you’ve got to take one step at a time. Focus on where you are, work hard and you never know when your chance might come. It could happen overnight that you are asked to come and train with the first team.
“He’s doing what he has to do in the youth team first to keep working hard and then try and work his way up.”
It might be hard to believe, but there is yet another Petratos sibling who, unusually for this family, is not involved in football. But perhaps he should be.
“Stavros is the agent!” Petratos jokes. “He used to play, but he just decided to stop. That’s normal. Not everyone has to be a soccer player. Our parents didn’t force us to play soccer and always said ‘only play if you want to’. They’re pretty good like that.”
On the opening day of the A-League season, Dimi made a stunning start with his spectacular strike in the Jets 5-1 win over Central Coast Mariners earning him the goal of the round award. After his move to Korea from Brisbane Roar earlier in the year was cut short, the player feels fortunate for his new beginning.
“It’s good to start fresh,” he says. “It’s a very nice place here in Newcastle. The people are nice and there are nice beaches. The players at training are excellent and I’m really enjoying my time here with them. So far everything is going well.
“I had a good time in Brisbane. In Korea it was alright. At the start I was playing regularly but as soon as the Asian Champions League finished the coach wanted to play his own players.
“I learnt a lot of things there, it was a great experience for me. I just had to accept it. My missus was also pregnant and that is also a reason I came back to Australia.”
With another Petratos on the way it won’t be long before the Jets have a full roster of Greek Australians in their starting line-up, but Dimi says having a child won’t change a lot for him on the field.
“I’m excited to be having a baby,” he says. “But I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and try and improve every week. You experience a lot of things and you learn how to deal with them. Every day you learn something new and get that experience and try and take it into the game and show that you’re growing as a player and as a person.”