Pedj Bojic might be the most improved player in the A-League and he deserves that mantle, because he's also one of the hardest working players.
They don-t work much harder than Pedj Bojic. And that goes for what he does off the pitch as much as on it.
The former personal trainer may have stepped back from that profession but he still works hard in the gym and at training, but it is the latter that has seen him arguably become the most improved player in the league over the last two seasons.
There are few better sights in the Hyundai A-League than Bojic making another marauding raid down the right wing, taking on all comers and whipping in a cross to Danny McBreen, and while Bojic is loath to talk up his own performances there is a confidence that radiates from him these days.
The Mariners fullback puts it down to a couple of conscious decision to work harder on his football and also the expert help he has received from Graham Arnold and assistant coach Phil Moss.
“It all comes down to the extra work that I have been putting in and cutting back on my personal training work and trying to maximise what I can to improve on the pitch,” Bojic said.
“I did that last year at the start of the season; football was the priority and I realised I can-t do everything at once. Giving the extra energy to football was the key, and Arnie has helped a lot too.
“He has played me in my position, I think I-m a natural right-back, which I hadn-t played throughout my professional career so that consistency over the last three years has been a great thing and the individual coaching with him and Phil Moss has helped me with crossing and taking set pieces as well.
“That (crossing the ball) is something I really worked on with Mossy and he took me through that. It-s improving, which is a great thing because it helps out the team; you get into good positions and if your final ball isn-t there it becomes pointless, so that is one thing I needed to work on, and set pieces are something else I worked on and the benefits are there.”
They certainly are. It-s likely Bojic-s set pieces are still the stuff of Clint Bolton-s nightmares and he says he won-t be giving them up anytime soon no matter how much Patrick Zwaanswijk wants them back, though he did give thanks to his fellow backs for allowing him to attack more often.
“He-s already gone,” Bojic quips about Zwaanswijk getting back over the dead-ball, “the way we set up - the fullback-s roles are quite vital in attack and it-s always a luxury having people who can fill in for you while you-re up there and do the things I enjoy and I have the engine to constantly be running for 90 minutes which helps.”
That fitness has always been a hallmark of Bojic-s game, but now the rest of his teammates have caught on and it-s a part of the club-s success. Even the diminutive Michael McGlinchey seemed to have bulked up when he sent Emile Heskey flying to the turf in the area back in round three, and although the Mariners have increased their lean mass, Bojic isn-t taking the credit.
“I stay away from that. There have been players who have asked me, and I have helped out along the way, but that-s not my position at the club. I think the game in general has become more physical and more of a high-paced game and other A-League clubs have picked up their fitness levels as well.
While the Mariners are continuing to sit pretty atop the ladder there has been speculation the loss of Tom Rogic might hurt them, sot so says Bojic who believes there are plenty more where his now ex-teammate came from.
“He-s got that European ambition and good on him for going there,” Bojic said.
“It-s a loss for the team, but he has missed four games and we have lost three and drawn one, we have a young boy in Anthony Caceras who will light up the A-League if he gets a chance soon for us.”
Whether Caceras gets that chance or not Bojic will still be there giving his all dashing uop and down the wing, for those who haven-t noticed it, check out a mariners game sometime soon, you might just be impressed with Pedj Bojic-s delivery, something we might not have said two years ago.