23 November 2010
Soccer | Daniel Phan
ANTHONY Duzel is already a leader at age 13.
The fledgling midfielder is captaining the Western Wolves’ under-15 side in Football Federation Victoria’s Champions League.
But despite his tender years, Duzel had adapted quickly to the role, partly due to his experience with the Australian representative team at this year’s AFC (Asian Football Confederation) under-14 boys’ Festival of Football.
“At first, I was nervous because in the past the teams I played in rotated captains and there was nothing like motivational talks,” Anthony said.
“It’s also the first time that I’ve been a captain. When I was playing with the under-14 Australian team, I had to be mature so that helped (with being captain).”
The regional tournament, held in Malaysia, provided the Sydenham youngster with a glimpse of life at the top level where he’s aiming to find himself in a few years’ time.
“Our first game was amazing,” Anthony said. “To walk out in the national gear and be treated like professional players was unreal.
“Most of the Asian teams were really quick but I reckon Australia was the most skilful side, plus we were also one of the youngest there.”
Having impressed in his five appearances, Anthony was selected for the all-star team, in which he played alongside the tournament’s standout players.
“I was so happy to make that team and was buzzing the whole time,” Anthony said. “It was a really good experience, one I’ll never forget.”
Anthony will undergo trials with the Victorian Institute of Sport’s National Training Centre and the Australian Institute of Sport next year.
But his talent is not just being noticed locally.
Such is his potential Anthony has been scouted by English Premier League sides Blackburn Rovers and Everton.
But given Croatia’s (Anthony is eligible for a Croatian passport) status with the European Union, neither club could promise Duzel a junior contract for when he turns 16.
“That was exciting and disappointing (about Croatia not being in the EU) at the same time, but now I just have to keep working hard,” he said. “(But) hopefully, Croatia joins (the EU) before I turn 16 so I can apply for a passport and be free to join a team in England or elsewhere.”
Meanwhile, Anthony, whose father Ivan played professionally in Croatia and Australia, will be looking to keep his side’s lead on the Victorian Champions League’s table intact.