New Perth Glory signing Jonathan Aspropotamitis shocked A-League fans when he announced he would be signing a short term contract for the Western Australia side. The untraditional move would see the Greek Australian participate in only the Asian Champions League and not the regular A-League season.
Although, for Jonathan, the move was the perfect opportunity to get minutes on the pitch against some of Asia’s most competitive sides.
“Initially I was meant to be going back to Melbourne to start pre-season (at Western United),” Jonathan says to The Greek Herald.
“I got a call from the club’s football director asking if I’d be interested in going over to the West and play in the Champions League.
“It’s something I said yes to straight away and it’s something I’m looking forward to. Getting that experience at a high level and putting that foot forward.”
Jonathan spent four years at Western Sydney Wanderers, being promoted from the club’s youth squad. In that time, he participated in their successful Asian Champions League run in 2014, where the club ultimately came home with the coveted trophy and ticket into the FIFA Club World Cup.
“Getting to the knockout round is a really special thing. It especially holds a lot of prestige in Asia,” Jonathan says.
“So if we can get to the knockout rounds it’ll be really special, but for now we have a tough fight on our hands against some big clubs in Asia.”
While the team has started with a loss, Jonathan adds, the plan is to get them “back on track” and through to the next stage.
“As a personal goal as well, just to play as many minutes as I can in those five games in the ACL, featuring in all those games is a personal goal of mine.”
Western United ‘bubble’ and international representation
Leaving Western Sydney Wanderers in 2018, Jonathan enjoyed a short stint at Central Coast Mariners before moving to Melbourne to play for newly formed A-League side Western United.
“The club was absolutely brilliant,” Jonathan says on playing for Western United.
“It has the culture and identity that I guess a lot of clubs are seeking and aspire to have.
“It’s got a real identity to the West of Melbourne. It really congregates and identifies with those fans.”
Forced to play under COVID-19 restrictions, Jonathan says that while many players felt stuck in the ‘bubble’, it ultimately brought the players, and club, closer.
“It was a difficult one for a lot of people but it was something that made people stronger and grew the relationship people had even closer,” Jonathan adds.
The 24-year-old defender adds that he has also developed a strong relationship with his U-24 Australian national team teammates. Playing with them on four occasions, the Greek Australian captained them for three of the matches, playing in the AFC U-23 Championship China 2018 Qualifiers.
“Even though it was underage national team, to be the captain any time, representing the people of Australia, it’s pretty special and something you can only dream of,” Jonathan says.
“When it’s happening it’s pretty surreal and you’re lost for words at the time, you’re walking your teammates out, signing the national anthem… yeah it’s something that I would never forget and it’s a proud moment for my friends and family.”
“Proud” Greek heritage
While many Greek Australians may play in the A-League, there may be none so passionate than Jonathan. Raised in the diverse Sydney Greek community, it “goes without saying” that he has a proud Greek heritage.
“Both sides of my grandparents immigrated to Australia in their late teens,” Jonathan says.
“They made sacrifices to come to Australia and it’s something I guess none of us will ever understand, unless we do it ourselves.
“I really take a lot from that every day, in everything I do, because something that’s something we really take for granted; The things they did for us, without them knowing many years ago that it laid the foundations for us that we live right now.
“I don’t hide my expression in being proud to be Greek.”
Asked if he would venture off into European football, Jonathan says his focus is currently on bringing success to Perth Glory, yet would be excited for an overseas move, should the opportunity come about.
“There’s no club specifically, but since I started it’s been a goal of mine to play in Europe or play overseas, wherever that might be.
“But, obviously easier said than done. I have to perform well in Australia and a bit of experience and luck has to come about.”