Ahead of his 50th game in a Melbourne Victory shirt, defender Adama Traoré has praised the growth of the A-League and culture of Victory under new boss Marco Kurz.
Capping off an initial two-year stint at Melbourne Victory after signing from Gold Coast with a win in the Victory Medal in 2014, Traoré departed AAMI Park for Europe; making stops in Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey before returning to Melbourne ahead of the 2019/20 A-League season.
Starting at left-back for Victory in the season-opening Melbourne Derby, the defender put in a 75-minute shift before departing as a late substitute.
Having become an Ivorian international since he departed Australia, Traoré today said he had evolved as both a player and as a person while on his European odyssey and was now looking to continue that growth at Victory.
“Before leaving, I learned a lot already and playing in Europe for five years, I think 100 per cent it helps you as a human being and as a player,” he said. “It helps you to take things in a different way.
“And I believe coming back again, to a wonderful country, a wonderful club and great people, you can only learn.
“There is always room to improve, I think it is also important for me to listen to people, great people around the club and I believe that I will learn a lot.
“For me, it’s the best club in the league and the organisation, the people, everyone at the club, they are unbelievable. That makes me very happy to be around this team.”
The 29-year-old, however, is not unique in his experiencing growth in the five years since his departure for Portuguese side Vitória de Guimarães with the A-League landscape shifting dramatically in his absence.
On a Victory level, the most obvious change is the departure of long-time club stalwart Kevin Muscat from the organisation and the entrance of Marco Kurz as Head Coach.