Joel Griffiths has learned a lot from Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, now he is simply hoping to use their tricks to better himself and Sydney FC.
There aren't many A-League players who can count Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba as teammates.
Joel Griffiths can now add Alessandro Del Piero - but it's the lessons he learnt from Drogba in their time at Shanghai Shenhua that could prove valuable to Sydney FC.
Griffiths provided an insight into just how the former Chelsea striker functions in front of goal, something defenders and goalkeepers across the globe have been trying to work out for the better part of a decade, while reflecting upon his time in the People-s Republic.
“At dinner time there was only four foreigners and we always sat together, so that was quite cool,” Griffiths reflected.
“It was certainly a privilege to play with both Drogba and Anelka, and learn from what they had to say on and off the field.
“I learned a lot of little things. You try and absorb so much, we did have a lot of shooting sessions and he (Drogba) did tell me to look at the goalkeeper-s feet before you shot either side of him.
“It seemed weird; so I tried to practice that and I could understand to an extent where he was coming from. He lifts his head just as he is about to shoot and as he is going through the backswing, he can see where the keeper plants his feet and that-s when he chooses which side to go.”
Certainly if the former Golden Boot winner wants to become even more prolific he would do well to emulate the Ivorian and two goals in two matches bodes well for him and Sydney FC, especially if he can have his three-match ban downgraded.
And as much as he enjoyed living in Shanghai, Griffiths is happy to be home in Sydney and back playing in a league he has seen grow rapidly since he left Newcastle Jets four years ago.
“Playing in China for four years; that is probably one of the slowest leagues I-ve played. Very skilful but very slow, but I-m definitely impressed with some of the games here, I just hope the referees let the game go a bit better,” he said.
“I think in our game against Melbourne there were too many fouls which slowed the game down. I think if you let the game go a lot more it would have been a better spectacle for the average punter and there were a lot of people watching. That-s the only negative I have.
“Less fouls, less yellows and I think it would be a better spectacle for the average Joe Blow.”
With attendances going up and knowledge of the game improving Griffiths was also of the belief that the league here has improved overall despite his well-publicised issue with match officials last weekend against Melbourne, and he believes the impact on fans has a lot to do with bringing big names to our shores.
“Obviously the signings (are a big factor). Most of the clubs realise how important the profiles of those players are, especially the one we have here.”
“Going into shops the general sports fan where they probably prefer to watch rugby league, they are talking about football and they know what-s going on in the A-League.
“I-m not going to say other sports are afraid of the A-League, because it-s summer and winter codes, but they are impressed. My mates are all ex- league players and they know more about who is playing where than I do.
“It shows how far it has come in eight years and hopefully we can learn from the players we have signed here to further our understanding of football.”
So if the league has come a long way and Griffiths has learned a lot in the last four years. How does he view the team he has come back into?
“When you come back to the A-League you put your heart and passion into it. You-re family and friends are watching every week. It feels like you have more expectations here,” he said.
“I just try and do my thing - I don-t think everything is where it needs to be though. The Wellington game everything just fell into place but that-s only three points at the end of the day.
“I just want to win. It-s so frustrating when we lose, it-s great I-m scoring but I-d rather the three points. Our main objective is to make the semis. The season will be classified a failure if we don-t, I think we have the personnel to make it that far we just have to be mentally prepared.”