New Western Sydney Wanderers defender Brendan Hamill says the attraction of playing for Socceroo legend Tony Popovic at his hometown club was too good to pass up.
Hamill was signed by the Wanderers last month after a disappointing two years in Korea. The former New South Wales and Australian Institute of Sport centre half spent two years in the K-League after leaving Melbourne Heart in 2012.
Western Sydney head coach Popovic made 58 appearances for the Socceroos at centre back, including at the 2006 World Cup, and enjoyed a long and successful career overseas.
“That’s a massive reason why I went to the club,” Hamill said.
“He’s one of the Golden Generation so to be able to work with him day in day out, pick his brain and be under him is priceless really. It’s going to be massive for me and my development.
“For me it was a no-brainer. Firstly given Tony’s track record over the past two years. The heights he’s reached as a professional himself, he’s a similar sort of player [to me]. It was a no-brainer really.”
A Chipping Norton local, Hamill played his junior football for the Marconi Stallions and Parramatta Eagles and his family are already dedicated Wanderers supporters.
“My mum and dad are members and my sister’s a member with her boyfriend so I’ve been to a couple of the games,” he said.
“The atmosphere’s amazing, there’s so many words you can use to describe it. It’s on another level. It’s crazy.”
Hamill burst into the A-League with Melbourne Heart as a 17-year old in 2010. He earned a move to Seongnam at the age of 19, making eight appearances for the club before a loan move to fellow Korean side Gangwon.
But the stopper suffered a serious knee injury at the end of 2012 and battled to secure game-time. Now 21, Hamill said he has no regrets about his time overseas.
“It wasn’t the best of times,” he said.
“Injury, change of coach, but all I can do is learn from it and take the positives and kick on really. Just use it as experience from here on in and not just for football but for life really.
“I’ve got no regrets. Things happen the way they did. I had a knee injury unfortunately, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve learned from it, I think I’ve grown as a person and as a footballer. I don’t think I take football for granted, but it just makes you appreciate it that little bit more when you experience a low point in your career.
“I’m not glad to have gone through it, but I’m happy it’s over now and can focus on the Wanderers and kick on.”
Hamill said he has completely recovered from his injury now and is keen to help the Wanderers go one step further this season and win an A-League grand-final.
“What they’ve done in the past two years is massive,” he said.
“There’s some great players in the squad, in the defensive positions, so it’s going to be exciting to challenge and work with these boys every day. We want to win, we want to win the A-League title and get to the semi-final of the Asian Champions League.
“Anyway that I can contribute, it’s up to the boss obviously, but we want to win this year. We want to go that next step.”
Hamill has played for the Joeys, Young Socceroos and Olyroos in the past and has seen a number of his former teammates move up into the Socceroos set-up. The defender admits it is a goal of his but for now all he is focused on is the Wanderers.
“I suppose it’s everyone’s goal,” Hamill said.
“Everyone that’s playing football wants to play at the highest level but for me the Wanderers, that’s all that’s on my mind. That’s all I’m thinking about to be honest.”