It’s football but not as we know it. When Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine joined 2. Bundesliga St Pauli in July he was keenly aware of the cub’s esoteric ethos and political activism.
Irvine saw in the skull and cross bones insignia, and charter of social justice espoused by a punk fan base, an aligning of the planets.
But when coach Timo Schultz told his league leading players they are welcome to have a pre-game beer or two should the mood take them, even the laidback Irvine was a tad bewildered.
Coming from the blood and thunder Championship via the Scottish Premiership, Irvine, 28, wasn't accustomed to such largesse from a team leader.
Stifling a chuckle, Irvine told FTBL: “Obviously he has a lot of trust in us as players - and that level of trust comes from our behaviour.
“The way we are gives him the freedom to say these kind of statements.”
Speaking before heading into camp for Australia’s crucial World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia at Sydney’s Commbank Stadium on Thursday, Irvine added: “He’s basically saying ‘if they want to do that they can do that’.
“But he knows how professional the group is and he knows what he has to do to get the best out of his players.
“It’s good to know we have the freedom to have a beer and pint before the game.
“But I don’t think too many players will be taking him up on that.
“What he’s trying to put across is the trust and the freedom players have to do what they need to do to be at their best.”
In an age of skin-fold, Bleep tests and dieticians Irvine isn’t one for a pre-match slurp of anything stronger than Gatorade.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “It’s one of those things were the culture around sport these days, even if you did want to do that it would be so taboo.
“You wouldn’t want to put any kind of risk on your performance, so I want be partaking in any pre-game boozing that’s for sure.
“We’re a long way from the ‘90s with Gazza (Paul Gascoigne) doing shots of whiskey at half-time.
“I think the game has gone to a different place now - and that type of thing is not going to be so common.”
“After a win though, maybe one or two, that’s always a guarantee.”
There have been plenty of both in Irvine’s debut season in Germany, with St Paui a point clear at the summit after 12 games, eight of which Irvine has featured in after an early season injury setback.
“The stadium is sold out each week - success or not and the atmosphere is awesome,” said Irvine.
“When you’re top of the league and winning almost every week everything is gravy.
“I’m just delighted the way I’ve been embraced by the cub, the city and the people. I can’t speak highly enough of it.”
Whilst he’s been playing a recent screening role for Australia, Irvine has been deployed box to box by St Pauli.
He doesn’t have a preference however.
“Throughout my career I’ve always played a number of different roles and it’s what’s best for the team,” he explained.
“Arnie (Graham Arnold) has that trust in me as a player to do a job that’s of importance to the team.
“We’re just looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd for the first time in two years - I can’t wait for it.
“We need to make the most of that home crowd advantage.”