JOEY Gibbs is relishing the professional environment of the A-League at Western Sydney Wanderers after graduating from state league football and having a day job.
Gibbs believed he’s laid the foundations for this season after a successful stint in the NSW Premier League with high-flying Marconi, under the tutelage of coach Luke Casserly.
And like fellow rising star Craig Goodwin – a former KFC employee in Melbourne before joining Melbourne Heart then Newcastle Jets – he’s grasping the professional opportunity with both hands.
“It’s different. I train in the mornings now. I used to work at Domino’s Pizza, which I don’t anymore which is good,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com with a laugh.
With Wanderers Gibbs, 20, has been professional for around a month.
The Central Coast-born youngster scored four goals for Tony Popovic’s side in a pre-season friendly but, according to reports, had signed with the Mariners’ youth team.
However, in fact, he was just training with the Central Coast outfit and was soon back in the black and red fold.
And with starting striker Dino Kresinger injured, Gibbs has stepped up over the last three weeks.
It’s no coincidence that his inclusion in the side has given the Wanderers a new dimension in central attack.
His presence up front against Brisbane Roar and his composure to finish off a fine move to open the scoring against the Jets last weekend suggest Gibbs is a real find.
“It’s progressing gradually and I’m just trying to work hard at training. If I take it step by step, not get too over-excited about things and hopefully it’ll keep going,” he said.
And with Shinji Ono working closely with him, Gibbs is reaping the benefits.
“Everything he [Ono] does, you learn from him. His touch is something different. You can tell, when he touches the ball there’s something different about him.
“I think the lead-up play was great for the goal, and I guess I was there to just tap it in. It was a great team goal.
“We work on those kind of things at training with central balls in and we saw a bit of improvisation from Hersey and Ono proves we can score goals like that," Gibbs said.
Wanderers head to Perth this weekend for a tough road trip. Not that Gibbs is overly concerned.
“We play the way we do. We’ll do what we usually do. We’re not going to change too much for Perth.
“It’ll be a challenge though, especially at that time of the day but we’re well prepared.
“We won’t change too much … we’re pretty confident in the way we play.”
Gibbs added the club’s playing group weren’t focusing too much on expectations – in terms of a finals finish – but believe hard work will pay off on the park.
A former recipient of the Lucas Neil Scholarship, Gibbs has also has one appearance in the A-League to his name. Sky Blue fans may remember their former youth team player as a substitute for Sydney FC in the 2010 Grand Final.
Gibbs spoke at the club’s community launch in Sydney’s west on Wednesday.
NRMA Insurance, major sponsor of Western Sydney Wanderers, is helping to bring football back to Western Sydney with the launch of the NRMA Insurance Ball Amnesty.
The NRMA Insurance Ball Amnesty will travel across the Western Sydney community throughout the A-League season, giving football fans the chance to exchange their used ball (size 3 and above) for a brand new NRMA Insurance Wanderers football.
All balls collected will be donated – along with some brand new ones – to the Amnesty’s charity partner, the Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Foundation that coordinates the Sports Impact Program that engages disadvantaged youths through sport.
“Like football, NRMA Insurance has deep roots within Western Sydney with a large portion of both our people and customers based in the region,” said John Lewis – NRMA Insurance.
“The NRMA Insurance Ball Amnesty is about bringing football back to the west after it has been starved of a team in the top tier of domestic football for years. Partnering with The Oasis Youth Foundation and the Sports Impact Program offered a great opportunity to work with those less fortunate in Western Sydney and we’re proud to launch what we believe will be a hugely successful campaign both for the club and region”.
Gibbs added: “It’s a great initiative helping under-privileged kids. When I was younger I would’ve loved it. And seeing a few A-League players and getting a ball.”
To see Gibbs and Wanderers at the NRMA Insurance Ball Amnesty launch, <<<