Western Sydney Wanderers defender Tass Mourdoukoutas recently spoke with NSW Football Media Manager Mark Stavroulakis to discuss his proud Greek heritage, along with his Olyroos and club goals for 2021.
The two kicked off the conversation by talking about Tass’ last name, Mourdoukoutas. More specifically, the two Greeks joked about the way other commentators and players tend to mispronounce the complicated surname.
“The way you (Mark) pronounced it was right, but ‘Moudakoutas’ is fine for a lot of the Aussies,” Tass jokingly said on NSW Football series ‘Pitch Side with Stav’.
Tass was part of the Socceroos’ U-23 friendly squad against Sydney FC and new A-League contenders Macarthur FC. While the match against Sydney FC was one to forget, letting three goals slip past the defence in the opening 20′ of the match, Tass’ defensive efforts in the second match helped them secure a 2-1 win against Macarthur.
“We’ve set new goals for the Olympics and it’s time to kick on and hopefully have a really good A-League campaign and year for the boys who want to push to make the (U-23) side.
“That’s pivotal in your selection and success of the team.”
With the final squad not yet announced for the upcoming 2021 Olympics, Tass says having the opportunity to represent the green and gold would be ‘incredible’.
“It’s not something you even think about when you’re younger… But when the opportunity came to push into the national team setup and play for the Olyroos, qualifying because we haven’t qualified the last four times, it was massive to do so. Historic and I’m really proud to be a part of that,” Tass said.
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“A lot of work needs to be put in between now and then, and I just need to put my best foot forward.”
While speaking very highly of his time at the Football Institute of NSW, Tass went on to talk discuss the formation of his career at Sydney Olympic FC. Entering the Men’s first team at a young age, Tass said he was “thankful” for the opportunity that many young players aren’t lucky enough to receive.
“It’s not easy to break in from the U-20s into the first grade and get a few games, and I was able to do that under the guidance of not only the coaching staff but the players at the time as well,” Tass said.
“I played with some really talented players at the time, including club legend Paul Henderson, who was a great role model for professionalism and attitude.”
“And Max Burgess was there at the time, what a player back then and even now, going strength to strength in the A-League.”
“It was a good time there at Olympic.”
Speaking about his transfer from Olympic to the Wanderers, Tass gave credit to former WSW NYL Coach Arthur Diles, who has now joined Sydney Olympic directors Bill Papas and Damon Hanlin, along with head coach Tony Popovic, at Greek Super League II side Xanthi FC.
Tass said Arthur tried to recruit him for the NYL team the year prior to him leaving, yet chose to stay to focus on his HSC and final year of schooling.
“I took a lot of pride in my schooling and education so I had to make a big decision at that point to not join the Wanderers.”
“It was a good decision in the end because I got to play some first grade men’s games and develop in ways that I may not of done if I was just playing in the youth team at Western Sydney.”
“That year gave me a lot of time to develop mentally and physically.”
Tass added to his extended thanks for Arthur Diles, saying he “owed a lot to him” for his development and coaching at Western Sydney Wanderers.
Concluding his interview with Tass, Mark Stavroulakis said he’s proud to see another Greek Australian player rise up through the ranks, asking him how important it was for him and his family.
“It’s such a strong Greek community here in Australia… there’s quite a few young Greek players scattered around the league and it’s good to see because we’re very passionate about the game and there’s a lot of culture there from even the old days in the NSL,” Tass concluded.
“I’d honoured to be Greek Australian and play for a country that supports us and we’ll continue to thrive I’m sure.”