Leroy George has given an eye-opening account of his time in the A-League and the party-hard exploits of his former Melbourne Victory teammates.
The Dutch winger was a standout for the 2017/18 Champions but left disenchanted when Victory failed to up his wages in line with a performance agreement.
In a wide ranging interview with Dave Aalbers of Vice Sports the 31-year-old said he was “now negotiating with three other clubs in Australia,” but required a lucrative deal to offset the hardship of playing far from home.
George, who has plied his trade in Holland, Turkey and Azerbaijan, chipped in with nine goals and 14 assists in Victory’s championship-winning season, yet seemed bemused the club lifted silverware.
“In the regular season we ended up as number four with more than twenty points less than the number one,” he told Vice Sports from the Netherlands where he made a surprise return to his family. “You can run a (poor) season in Australia and then still celebrate a championship. I am very proud that I managed to win the title after two championships in Azerbaijan on the other side of the world.”
It was a week before he knew of the Grand Final controversy and admits it didn't dampen post-match spirtis. The only goal, which started with his own free kick, was offside but went undetected by the VAR system which malfunctioned during 30 crucial seconds.
“The party was certainly no less,” he said. “Those guys there know how to celebrate a championship. We only celebrated for a week.
“Crates of beer in the locker room, steps, and more of that sort of thing…those teammates of mine (celebrated) the whole week. I sometimes drink something myself, but what those Australians do is really next level.
“(They) were in the drink from 10 o'clock in the morning. That was quite different from the titles in Azerbaijan. There I asked: ‘Hey, where is the beer?’ But of course these were all Muslims, and they do not drink.”
George seemed equally impressed with the Mad Monday frolic.
“It is a tradition and everyone has to dress up,” he said. “I do not know exactly what that day entails, but it was really a laugh. I was dressed up as a Formula 1 driver. Of course they started again at 10 O'clock in the morning and ended it after midnight. Man, they know what parties are there.”
George said he never imagined playing in Australia when he left Turkey in May last year but the desire for a new challenge meant the deal was done in three days.
“Life in Australia was…super-relaxed,” he said. “ I usually went to the club at 9 O'clock in the morning and then we started training at 10 o'clock. Around 12 O'clock I discussed with my teammates what we were going to do in the afternoon. Often it would be nice to have lunch and drink coffee. Then I took a nap and it was already evening. I then sent an app to my teammates: ‘Where are we going to eat?’ That was the life in Australia pretty much. Nothing wrong with that.”
George said people were surprised he had not stuck with Victory. "We had agreed that if I would perform well that would also be seen in the next contract. The club also wanted to extend, but then just for the same amount...I am old and wise enough now that I know this is part of football. It remains business."
He added: “As a little boy who grew up here in the Staatslieden neighbourhood I never expected that I would ever see Australia.
“I do what I am good at, the game that I love. I come to countries where I would not come without football. That's great to experience. It is therefore too early for a return to the Netherlands. I would like to play abroad for another year or two. Around that time I am 33 and then we see again.”