Galekovic: Hyundai A-League on the rise

Adelaide United keeper Eugene Galekovic believes the Hyundai A-League is slowly closing the gap on the big European leagues.

Adelaide United keeper Eugene Galekovic believes the Hyundai A-League is slowly closing the gap on the big European leagues.

Galekovic said the Hyundai A-League still had a way to go before it could compare with the top leagues of Europe but was confident the talent pool in Australia can continue to grow in the domestic competition.

He said last season’s arrival of Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler was a step in the right direction.

The dual Hyundai A-League goalkeeper of the year said the sport in Australia still has too much competition whereas the following in Europe is fanatical.

“(The difference) is still pretty big,” he said.

“We’re looking at Europe where it’s the No.1 sport there and we’re still behind the rugbys and the AFL.”

“It will grow, but we’ve still got a long way to go. It is catching (up), the league is getting better and hopefully it keeps getting stronger and better and keeps bringing players like Robbie Fowler and keeping them here.”

The Hyundai A-League has proved to be a launching pad for the most talented, home-grown youngsters, who after a year or two of an apprenticeship are usually snapped up by smaller European clubs – hopefully on the way to bigger leagues.

The Reds’ shot-stopper said it is the reality of a domestic competition still in its infant stage, with former Qantas Socceroos and Australians who have spent many seasons in Europe looking to end their careers on home soil.

Galekovic said it would always be tough to keep the best players playing in Australia with the lure of big money and superior level football in Europe too lucrative to knock back.

“We’ll bring up the good players like the Tommy Oars and they’ll eventually head over and we can bring back Socceroos that have got a couple of years left in their career. The competition will still be healthy,” he said.

“I think it’s hard with the salary cap. If you look at the money over there it’s ridiculous. Players have got 10-15 years in their career and they want to make as much money as they can and I don’t think the A-League is for that. I think it’s a great stepping stone but other than that the football is in Europe or Asia and that’s where it’s going to be for a long time.”

Galekovic admitted that for the good of the game in this country and for the long-term benefit of the Qantas Socceroos, it is essential there are more Australians playing in the top leagues of Europe.

With the imminent retirement of some of the Qantas Socceroos’ older players, and more to likely retire prior to the next World Cup, Galekovic said there is a promising crop of youngsters coming through who are more than capable of replacing the heroes of Germany and South Africa.

“I think there are still a lot of good players overseas,” he said.

“If you look at this squad I think there’s only me and Jason (Culina) that are playing in the A-League. So, I think to make the World Cup the best players do have to play in the better competitions in Europe because it is a better level of football.”

“There are the ones that are young like Tommy Oar, James Holland, (Nikita) Rukavytsya, and in four years’ time they are going to be good solid players and are going to have a bit of experience behind them. There’s also Dario Vidosic. There’s going to be a good team in four years.”