New Western United signing James Delianov grew up in Melbourne inspired by a Socceroo keeper who made his name at Victory.
“When I was younger, I’d watch Mitch Langerak play at Melbourne Victory. He was a big idol," Delianov told FTBL today. “I’d watch him with a very close eye.
“He had a fantastic season when he got his chance. It felt like he was someone I could be like."
Size wise, certainly, the two are similar. They are both big, and both made their A-League debuts as teenagers.
Langerak as an 18-year-old at Melbourne Victory, Delianov last month as a 19-year-old for Melbourne City.
“We both made our debuts at a similar age," said the teen. "I always idolised Mitch even after he signed for Borussia Dortmund.
“He’s my biggest idol, I’ve been inspired by him for sure."
While Langerak moved relatively early in his career - first to Germany and now to the J-League - Delianov's first move has gone across town to the west of Melbourne.
The new Western United player’s A-League debut came against Central Coast Mariners last month in the Melbourne City shirt.
He kept a clean sheet – which is never a bad way to start your professional career.
“I got a taste," he said. "It was AAMI Park where I always wanted to play.
“I felt ready. Mentally ready. I was relaxed. It was something you work your whole life for.
“And to be honest, I didn’t want the game to end.”
The Mariners did. They were smashed 5-0 by City.
Delianov, whose name derives from a Macedonian background (“though there also may be some Russian in there somewhere!”), grew up in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, turning out for Bundoora United, a club where his brother and sister also played.
He became one to watch – making the state team, playing in the nationals and graduating to the FFA Centre of Excellence.
The tall keeper is rated on the national scene, having been selected for the Joeys at the 2015 U17 World Cup in Chile (alongside future City teammate Daniel Arzani).
Delianov was also between the posts for the Young Socceroos during the recent AFC U19 Championships, playing every match.
United, who unveiled inaugural head coach Mark Rudan this morning, have recruited a mix of youthful Aussie future stars and established names.
It’s an impressive squad on paper as they prepare for day one of pre-season in July.
Marquee attacking midfielder and Greek World Cup player Panagiotis Kone, brought in from Serie A, is the big name.
Former Socceroo and SPL favourite Scott McDonald, Ersan Gulum, the Turkish international, as well as current Socceroo Josh Risdon round out an impressive raft of early business.
Now the talented 19-year-old, 190cm keeper with the reputation as a future Socceroo is ready to push Polish star Filip Kurto for a starting spot at Victoria’s newest A-League outfit.
It couldn’t be tougher. But that’s all part of the appeal of United for Delianov. Quality players, quality coach, and a quality environment.
“I’m excited to be working with Filip," he said. "He’s had an exceptional season with the goalkeeper of the year award.
“I can’t wait to learn off him but I want to nibble at his feet and push for that number one spot. Ever since I was young I always enjoyed making the big saves, especially penalties.
Delianov added: “It’ll be challenging but I look forward to it.
“Moving to United was a no-brainer."