How agent ALF helped seal Goddard’s Mariners move

Central Coast Mariners Goddard recruit tells Matthew Comito and KEEPUP how Adam Le Fondre helped convince him to venture to Gosford ahead of the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League season.

In the hotel room next door to Cy Goddard’s, a TV blared with the sounds and sights of an enthralling Isuzu UTE A-League campaign. 

Goddard oftentimes found himself venturing inside and tuning in, looking to kill time in a quarantine bubble through the 2020/21 Indian Super League season.

There to talk him through it all was Mumbai City FC teammate, friend, quarantine neighbour and prolific Isuzu UTE A-League goalscorer Adam Le Fondre.

“Alf (Le Fondre) was a big factor why I came over here,” Goddard told KEEPUP.  “We were in a bubble last year in India, so I spent most of my days with Alfie. 

“He was in the room next to me. We were watching A-League games, and he’d talk about the league and say ‘it’s a good league for you to step up and go to’. It was always in my mind that maybe if I had the chance to come over it would be a good decision for me.

“Me and Alf were in a bubble for quite a while, we were basically stuck with each other for a long time. We developed a good relationship and bond. I can learn from him, I can even go to him now and ask for advice.

“He’s a player that’s done it even in the Premier League so he’s a great person to go and talk to, he’s someone I can really trust for little bits of advice that I need. 

“I was watching a lot of Sydney FC, I remember the games always being quite intense with the Mariners and Sydney FC. They were good to watch. I was watching the (grand final) when it got played, Alf was playing in that match. Just to see the intensity of the game and how competitive it was, it was a really good insight into the league.”

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Sydney FC’s Le Fondre played a pivotal role in convincing Goddard to head to the Isuzu UTE A-League

Le Fondre wasn’t the only player familiar face for Goddard featuring in the 2020/21 Isuzu UTE A-League Grand Final, a game between Le Fondre’s Sydney FC and Melbourne City which ended 3-1 in favour of the latter.

In between the sticks for City on that day was Tom Glover, who grew alongside Goddard through the academy ranks at English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in London.

“Tom is a similar age to me,” Goddard said. “I remember I used to sit next to him when I was doing some of the education work we needed to complete. I know Tom very well, he’s a top ‘keeper and a top guy.

“I think we must have been playing with each other for around four years, which is quite a long time.

“Tom was at the Mariners for a year as well, so I spoke to Tom before (I signed) and he said the Mariners are a really tight-knit club, and a family club, which is really what I was looking for: a club where I’ll be respected, and I could help the team as well as improve my game at.

“I was speaking to Tom and he said it’s a really good league to come to. I’ve still got a lot to show as a player and hopefully I can show it in the league, and develop myself as a player. I think I’ve still got leaps to show so I’m looking forward to putting my head down and work hard to put out the performances i’m capable of.”

Melbourne City ‘keeper Tom Glover was a useful point of contact for Goddard when pondering a Mariners move

Goddard joined the Spurs academy at ten years of age, growing through the ranks before turning down an offer to extend his stay at the club in 2017. A move to Italian side Benevento Calcio was to follow before Goddard joined Mumbai City in October 2020, where he became a key member of a squad which clinched the Indian Super League title and ISL trophy in the same historic season.

Reflecting on his time spent at Spurs in England, Goddard – a self-confessed Chelsea fan – says training with the first team in the latter stages of his Tottenham stint was an eye-opening experience, with Christian Eriksen setting the bar as a player worthy of aspiring to be like.

“It was a great learning environment for me to be brought up in, going right up to having training sessions with the first team and working with some of the top managers, seeing what the top players why they are at the top, their work ethic and how clever they are on the pitch.

“I think everyone says it, it’s quite funny, that when you train with Moussa Dembele, the guy is just too good.  It’s impossible to tackle him, he’s so strong it’s ridiculous.

“I think he’s a lot of player’s go-to (as the best they’ve played with) but for me, Christian Eriksen was a big one. When I was training with him he’d just pop up in little spaces and even before you could get near him the ball was off.

“For me (he was) a player I could look towards and try and pick stuff off of his game to make myself better. There’s so many top players in that team, and just training with them really boosts yourself. 

“(You’re) thinking ‘okay they’re at that level, how can I improve my game? What little (things) can I pick up to help enhance my own game?’ 

“Seeing what the real intensity to be like (them) is, when you go up there and train with the first team the intensity is on a whole other level, and you’ve got to try and be up there with that level.”

Christian Eriksen became a role model for Goddard throughout his time training with the Tottenham first team

Joining the Mariners at the age of 24 poses a fresh challenge to Goddard, who at a young age has seen a lot in world football. From the Tottenham academy, to Italian Serie B, Cypriot football side Pafos and Mumbai City FC, Goddard has played in a range of positions in both attack and midfield, under an array of head coaches who have all played a part in his development to date.

He says he’s eager to use that experience to his advantage in Gosford this season.

“I’ve played with a lot of top managers and played with a lot of top players,” he said. “During my time I’ve been able to pick up some good advice, whether it’s technically, tactically or even mentally.

“For me, the main thing is I get my head down, work hard and prove why I should be in the team. 

“Luckily I’m quite a versatile player, at Tottenham I played more of a central midfield position and attacking midfield, being out in Italy I played a little bit more wide and last year I played attacking midfield and out wide, so I’m quite a versatile player who can play on the left and right.

“For me I think I can impact in quite a few positions, but obviously I need to prove myself, get my head down and graft. We have a lot of good players and there’s a lot of competition for attacking spots, so it’s for me to prove myself why I should be in the team and why I’ll have a big impact in the team.”

Goddard and the Mariners kick-off the 2021/22 Isuzu UTE A-League season with an F3 Derby clash against Newcastle Jets on Sunday, November 21.

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