Leckie: I’ve come a long way

Adelaide United’s young star Matthew Leckie admits his sudden rise to stardom still surprises him, saying he sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure it’s for real.

Adelaide United’s young star Matthew Leckie admits his sudden rise to stardom still surprises him, saying he sometimes he has to pinch himself to make sure it’s for real.

Plucked from Bulleen in the Victorian Premier League, the speedster enjoyed a stunning breakout season with the Reds, a solid AFC Champions League campaign where he scored twice and is now being touted with a big time move to Europe.

The 19 year-old returned from China this week after a successful Asian U19 tournament with the Qantas Young Socceroos – who finished runners up after a 3-2 loss to DPR Korea in the final.

Leckie was instrumental in the Qantas Young Socceroos success, finding the back of the net in the 4-2 quarter final defeat of UAE.

And, he acknowledged the world of professional football is ‘a long way’ from the VPL.

“Where I have come from is great for me and I’m pretty proud,” he said.

“I guess I’m just used to it now. It’s been a while now, I’ve been in this environment for so long. It comes naturally now to live the lifestyle that I’m living, training full time every day at a professional club. But yeah, I still do look back there and where I was and I have come a long way.”

Leckie denied he will be looking for an immediate move abroad, admitting he will bide his time until the right offer comes along.

The fleet-footed winger acknowledged the growing strength of the Hyundai A-League and stated he is more than happy plying his trade with the Reds and won’t be rushing into a quick transfer to Europe.

“Adelaide is a great place and since I’ve been here it’s been great for me,” he said.

“I’ve learnt a lot, but obviously if something did come up then I would look at it. But I’m happy here as well so it comes down to making a decision.”

“It’s good over here. The Hyundai A-League is a great league and it’s getting better and better as the years go on. For me to play over here it’s been great, every game is a tough one.”

Leckie acknowledged he gained valuable experience during the tournament in China, as did his Reds team-mate, goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.

A rare blunder by the young shot stopper led to DPR Korea scoring the late winner, but Leckie praised his United team-mate.

While disappointed in losing the final, Leckie said the Qantas Young Socceroos have ultimately qualified for the U20 World Cup in Colombia next July.

“Obviously going over to another country and having an experience like that is a great experience for me,” he said.

“Especially for us to get to the final – we went over there to play so we qualify for the World Cup. We did that and then we pushed for the final. To get to the final was a good experience, but it was a bit disappointing we didn’t win it.”

“He was obviously a bit disappointed when it happened but we all patted him on the back and told him not to worry about it. We all know he’s a great keeper and he’s moved on from it.”

Leckie looks odds on to return to United’s starting XI after a couple of light sessions during the week before completing the Reds main training on Thursday.

“I got home and stayed home all day and just got really rested. I had a good night sleep so I feel quite fresh,” he said.

“I just did a full training today, had a couple of light run-throughs a bit of warm down so it’s up to Rini (coach Rini Coolen) who he puts on the park. Any time I get will be up to him and obviously I’ll be happy with whatever I get.”