‘I don’t think I can be compared to Pele just yet’: Jets match-winner reflects on first goal and THAT nickname

He’s been dubbed the ‘Port Macquarie Pele’ but Newcastle Jets youngster Angus Thurgate is solely focused on carving out his own name in the Hyundai A-League.

And the 19-year-old mounted a strong case to do just that on Saturday, coming off the bench to be the match-winning hero as the Jets overcame the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-2.

Thurgate’s introduction sparked a second-half rally from the home side, eventually slotting the winning goal with a composed finish eight minutes from time.

The goal was his first in the Hyundai A-League in his 14th appearance in the competition.

“It’s a good feeling. I’ve been waiting for a while,” Thurgate told www.aleague.com.au on Monday.

“I was copping a bit of stick from my mates for not scoring so it’s good to finally get one. Hopefully there’s more to come.

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“It’s definitely a confidence builder. I’m glad to get my first goal and even happier to get a win for the team.

“My dad was [at the game] and he came down to the fence like always after the game. It was good to see him and he told me ‘even he could have scored it’. That’s just fathers for you.”

Angus Thurgate in action against Melbourne City last season

Comparisons with a Brazilian legend

There’s been plenty of hype around Thurgate ever since he came through the Jets ranks to make his Hyundai A-League debut midway through last season.

He earned an upgrade to a full Hyundai A-League contract in the pre-season before signing a contract extension to keep him in the Hunter until the end of the 2021/22 Season.

And his meteoric rise has earned him the moniker of the ‘Port Macquarie Pele’ in some circles.

“I have no idea how I got it or who started it. I just keep seeing it online,” Thurgate said with a laugh.

“I don’t think I can be compared to a Pele yet.

“I’m not that fond of it but I’ll take it I suppose.”

Youngsters getting their chance in the Hunter

While they are still mathematically in the hunt for the finals, Jets boss Ernie Merrick has hinted he’ll use his exciting crop of youngsters for the remainder of the season.

The Jets boss is choosing to look ahead to building a solid base for next season and wants to get more experience into his young players.

That means the likes of Thurgate, Joey Champness, Ivan Vujica, Kaine Sheppard and Ivan Vujica could see plenty more game time over the last three rounds.

“Ernie and the club have invested in a lot of youth and most of us have signed up for a few more seasons as well,” Thurgate said.

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“It would be good to play alongside them for a while and hopefully build a good partnership and have a successful time with it in the future.

Thurgate added: “[Ernie’s] been great. He put me in last season and it was good to make my debut.

“He just keeps positive with me. I haven’t had much game time throughout the season but he keeps telling me I’m doing well.

“He’s a good man manager, he tells you what you are doing wrong, what you can improve on and it helps a lot.”

The Jets are on the road this weekend, heading to Perth to take on league-leaders Glory on Sunday night.

Joey Champness
Joey Champness is among a host of exciting youngsters at the Jets