Uruguayan-Aussie harbours Sydney ambition

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After three years playing in Uruguay, Blake Ricciuto is back in Australia, trialing with Sydney FC in a bid to win a dream A-League contract.

Ricciuto, who hails from Sydney, left Australia for Uruguay – where his father was born - three years ago, finding his way to Uruguayan giants Penarol.

The holding midfielder’s Penarol contract expired at the end of last season and while he had options elsewhere in Uruguay, he jumped at the chance with the Sky Blues.

He was on “the first plane back to Sydney” after the trial offer a fortnight ago in order to acclimatise, starting his trial on Monday last week.

“The opportunity to train with such a great club was too good to turn down,” Ricciuto told FourFourTwo.

“I thought why not come home and give it a go. It’s time to give it a go, the A-League is growing.”

Ricciuto, who turns 23 next month, got half an hour off the bench in last week’s pre-season friendly against Belconnen United.

Sydney have an abundance of midfielders and coach Graham Arnold has previously said he has a fairly settled squad, although Terry Antonis officially left the club last week for Greek outfit PAOK.

The Sky Blues also added mature-age rookie Alex Mullen on Tuesday, but Ricciuto is hopeful of a deal.

“If there were no spots, he (Arnold) wouldn’t have me on trial,” Ricciuto said.

“I haven’t spoken much about it. I’m just focusing on what I’m here for.

“They’ve welcomed me and I believe I’m up to the level. I’m confident, I’ve just got to impress here at Sydney and hopefully I can stay.

“It’s one of, if not, the biggest club here in Australia and as a Sydney boy, it’d be great to stay.”

In his younger days, Ricciuto couldn’t even get an A-League trial leading to his decision to try his luck in Uruguay and he said he’s returned a better player.

Ricciuto never made his first-team Penarol debut, but had more success last season on loan with Segunda Division club Canadian.

He played every league game except for two due to suspension, as the club narrowly missed out on promotion to the Primera Division in the play-offs.

“Going to Uruguay did help,” Ricciuto said.

“Playing over there, I feel like I’ve grown as a player and as a person. I feel that’s another reason why they’re giving me the chance to show myself here.

“I learnt a lot, I had a lot of experiences. I trained with big players at Penarol and good coaches like Paolo Montero and Jorge Fossati.

“It was a great experience, I’m happy I did it.”

Ricciuto, who said he hadn’t been contacted by any other A-League clubs, said Canadian were one of many options he still had back in Uruguay.

“If I can’t find anything here in the A-League, I definitely still have the option to go to Uruguay,” he said.

“At the moment, I’m enjoying my time at Sydney and hopefully something comes of it and I can play in the A-League.”

Photo credit: Sal Giovinazzo from Sydney FC friendly against Belconnen United