Aspropotamitis relishing A-League action

Young Wanderers defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis is relishing his time in the first-team as Western Sydney looks for its third successive A-League victory.

Aspropotamitis came off the bench to replace an injured Alberto Aguilar in the second-half against Perth Glory in a 1-0 win, and then started alongside Nikolai Topor-Stanley in the Wanderers’ 2-1 triumph over the Newcastle Jets on Saturday.

The Wanderers will meet Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Friday and the youngster is expected to feature once again.

The 19-year-old only made his first-team debut last season - accruing eight A-League appearances and one in the AFC Champions League.

“It’s sort of been a bit of a slow start for us but week by week we’ve been getting better,” Aspropotamitis told FourFourTwo.

“Everyone’s travelling really well at the moment. Obviously at the start of the pre-season there was a lot of new faces and it sort of took a while to get to know everyone.

“But we’ve been away on a few trips and everyone’s gelling together now. Everyone’s starting to understand everyone’s games a bit better. It’s coming along nicely.

“I’m relishing the chance to train in a first-team environment for a full season and just try and improve day in, day out at training and learn as much as I can from the more senior boys in terms of being in a professional environment.

“In terms of playing time, any time I get the pitch with the first-team this season is a bonus.”

Aspropotamitis was discovered by Wanderers assistant coach Ian Crook and looked assured and comfortable on the ball in his first taste of professional football last year.

“That was a pretty cool experience, especially to play in the [Asian] Champions League against guys that were reportedly earning millions and millions of dollars,” the centre-back said.

“To play in that competition was something that I’ll never forget. Also to debut in the A-League, for Poppa to give me the chance to play was something I’ll always be grateful for.”

Aspropotamitis hails from Sydney’s east and his first club was Queens Park. He then moved on to Sydney University before stints with Parramatta FC, APIA Leichhardt and Sydney Olympic.

“I’m from the eastern suburbs, which has caused a bit of a stir amongst the boys,” Aspropotamitis joked.

“I’m a Sydney boy through and through. Still in the east and living with the parents at the moment. My brothers and my dad used to play a bit, they got me into football.

“When I was younger I used to play a lot of sports and as I got older and older football just started becoming a passion of mine.

“I was always sort of a sporty-type kind and football just sort of stood out for me. From about Under-12s, 13s I was a centre-back. Below that it’s just about running around.

“They saw me as a tall kid and just stuck me at the back, purely for long balls and that kind of thing. I enjoy it, I enjoy it a lot.”

Aspropotamitis represented Australia at Under-20 level earlier this year in matches against U.S.A, Mexico and Brazil.

“That was pretty cool to represent your country on home soil against quality opposition,” he said.

“To play with some of the guys I played with – Brandon Borello, Stefan Mauk, future Socceroos  - was pretty special to play amongst them representing our country.  At any level it’s a privilege to represent your country and it’s a goal of mine to get back to that level one day.”

Aspropotamitis said as a central defender he is learning a lot from being under the tutelage of former Socceroo great Tony Popovic.

“He’s passed on a lot of advice to me since I started training with the first-team last year,” he said.

“He is probably one of the best centre-backs we’ve produced. The time I’ve had under him has been just a privilege to be coached by someone with such experience. He gives me so much advice when he feels the need to.”