There’s something special about strikers. We asked A-League legends past and present to reveal the secret art of their striking success...
When you’re a kid, no-one wants to be a defensive midfielder, or a central defender, or least of all the keeper. Everyone wants to be the striker. But are you born a striker or can it be learnt? What attributes are needed, how big a part is psychology? And even if you have all the attributes, what about confidence and bad patches of form? More importantly, how do you maintain form and rediscover lost form?
And crucially what is that special X-Factor that separates Dino Kresinger from Besart Berisha, Joel Griffiths from Mario Jardel. How do you unlock the A-League?
To find out, we asked the top two all-time A-League scorers Archie Thompson and Shane Smeltz as well as a trio of today’s current top charting A-League strikers.
Does being a striker choose you?
Sydney FC striker Shane Smeltz has scored 110 goals for both club and country and thinks that for him, playing up front was a choice that was thrust upon him.
“Honestly if I look back on it, being a striker more than likely chose me.” says Smeltz.
“When I got to the age of 14/15 and I was scoring more goals than I was setting up. I really thought if I’m going to play up front you really need to focus on one position and make it your own. I really studied and learnt the art of being a striker and never looked back.”
Melbourne Victory legend Archie Thompson, the current all-time top A-League scorer with 85 goals to his name (at the time of going to press...) says playing a variety of roles in his junior days helped him become a striker.
“Growing up you try all different positions, it just happens that’s the position that suited me and I have had more success at scoring goals,” he insists.
This season’s Sydney FC goalscoring sensation, Austrian international Marc Janko, became the first player to score in seven consecutive A-League games and says he chose to be a matchwinner at an early age.
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Australian FourFourTwo - subscribe now to make sure you never miss more great features like this and get them delivered to your doorstep cut-price and before everyone else too! Copy the link below now!
“It was pretty clear to me I wanted to become the striker,” said Austrian vice-captain.
“Not a goalkeeper and not a defender, I wanted to finalise the actions and not create. I’ve been a striker since I was six years old, and always love to score goals. I was the guy who preferred to be shooting the goals and not preventing them.”
Wellington Phoenix’s Nathan Burns, currently second in the top scorers’ A-League chart as we went to press, started off his career as a winger, but it wasn’t until his move to New Zealand this season playing under head coach Ernie Merrick that the 10 capped Socceroo started playing as a number nine.
“The game is changing, I started off as a winger – these days wingers are now the new strikers,” he says. “I’m not a natural number nine but the way the game is evolving, I’m more of a striker these days.
“I’ve got the confidence in the coach. He allows me to stay forward knowing that I can hopefully get that goal, whereas, in previous years, there have been bigger players in front of me who had that role instead of me.”
Perth Glory’s marksman Andy Keogh who has played and scored in English Premier League says that he was destined to be a striker.
“I was always a striker – the first game the manager played me up front because I scored and that was it. I scored and I’ve been playing as striker ever since.”