Free kicks | Tarek Elrich

The proud Wanderer talks fast cars, the Top Gear Challenge, retro keeper jerseys and much more.

Tarek, it-s been a while, good to talk to you again, how have you been doing?

Good mate, I-m feeling the fittest I have in a long time and being back home is great.

One thing I do know is that you love your cars, tell us about that passion of yours.

I-ve bought and sold a lot of cars over the last few years, I love changing it up, I-ve bought myself an old school Merc. It-s a 1980 Merc, which I bought to work on, but I bought it off a 75-year-old lady so it didn-t need any work in the end.

Cars are my biggest hobby and when all the boys come in looking for cars, I do the hard work for them and have found them some cheap run around cars that have been pretty good…. Touch wood.

Which car that you have owned is your favourite?

Probably my old school Merc or the Mercedes convertible that I have at the moment.

Nice, how many cars have you owned over the years?

To be honest mate, I have no idea, probably around 20 or so.

What was your first car?

I had a 2000 model Ford Laser, that was the first car I had to buy, I wanted a BMW convertible back then, but dad made me learn how to drive properly before I bought an expensive car, but I have since bought one of those, a 98 Hi-line and I bought it in 2004.

If you could drive any model of car, money no object, what would it be?

For a day, a Bugatti, for the speed and handling but if it was a car to drive for the rest of my life a Rolls Royce Phantom, keep it classy to drive the wife and kids around hopefully.

How would you go if you did the Top Gear Challenge (Star in a reasonably priced car)?

To be honest, alright, when I was with the Jets, Nathan Tinkler invited me to a V8 Supercar day with Hunter Sports and he had a Ford XR6 turbo that we drove around Eastern Creek and I was only four seconds off the pro driver, not bad for my first time.

Is there any teammate, who you would NOT let drive your car?

Not naming names, they know who they are, but we have a couple of young guys (21,22) at the Wanderers and two of them still haven-t got their licence, They need to get that, but either of those two because I would say they-re scared to drive.

Moving on from cars, but still on money, I hear you boys don-t want to be in the papers, due to the fine police?

Yeah every time we get our photo in the paper it-s $5, Michael Beauchamp and Shinji Ono are copping it pretty badly, so it-s all pretty fun, but I got ripped off when we played Wellington in the pre-season, my boot, nothing else was in the picture and because I was the only one wearing that colour boot, I copped the fine.

Did you take that up with the fines committee?

Yeah, but that-s Ante Covic and he called the fine, I tried to pay NZ dollars too, about 50 cents Australian, but the boys said Aussie dollars only.

If you weren-t playing football what would you be doing? To be honest I always said a physio or personal trainer, but I-m also pretty hands on so maybe a tradie of some sort, but ultimately I think personal trainer given what I have learned through football.

Who was your footballing idol?

I was a goalie when I was younger and Peter Schmeichel was my idol, my brothers used to buy me all the Reusch gloves and the Reusch shirts that matched the Schmeichel ones and they were pushing me to be a goalkeeper, but I think they just wanted someone to kick the ball at in the backyard.

When I moved on to the field Eric Cantona and then my brother Ahmad when he went and played overseas I looked up to him as well.

Some of those kits were pretty out there, do you still have any? Yeah, they have Elrich #1 on the back, mum kept them and I-ll probably thank her when I give them to my kids to unleash those retro jerseys. I figure by that stage they-ll be in again.

You-re a Western Sydney boy, where-s the best place to go in Western Sydney?

Parramatta Westfield is probably the best Westfield in Australia and we-re in the middle of everything, the Blue Mountains isn-t far and neither is the city.

Finish the following sentences please Tarek,

The A-League is… Getting bigger and better every year

My teammates would say I am… Pretty humble, easy-going and always willing to help others.

Tony Popovic is… A young coach and brings a lot of excitement to the game as he only retired not long ago.

Cheers Tarek, hope to see you on the park soon.

Thanks hopefully I get my chance shortly.