‘I thought about kissing Zidane’s head’: McGree’s brush with football’s elite

Melbourne City youngster Riley McGree is putting no limits on what he wants to achieve in his career after rubbing shoulders with some world football superstars at the recent FIFA Best Awards.   

Elsewhere, there’s some mixed news on the injury front for Sydney FC, while Brisbane Roar have a Wanderers star to thank for landing their latest Spanish import.

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It's all in this week's edition of Hyundai A-League Paper Talk.

McGree wants more after brush with football royalty

He may have missed out on the top prize but ‘Scorpion King’ Riley McGree is still on a high after his nomination for the prestigious Puskas Award.

The Melbourne City teenager flew to London last month after his scorpion kick goal in last season’s Hyundai A-League Semi-Final was a contender for the best goal in the world.

While he lost out to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, McGree lapped up the experience of being around world football’s elite and hopes to get back on that stage again.

“I went to London on FIFA’s dime which was good, my girlfriend and I went business,” McGree told AAP.

“I walked the green carpet. And when we were seated I had (Zinedine) Zidane’s head in front of me. I thought about kissing the back of his head,” he laughed.

“(Real Madrid goalkeeper Thilbaut) Courtois was next to me. All the other players, the Salahs and the (Eden) Hazards a bit further ahead.

“It was a great experience but I didn’t think I was going to win. These players, they’re bigger players with bigger fans.”

Still just 19, McGree certainly has the world at his feet having already won a move to Europe with Club Brugge and received a Caltex Socceroos call up in 2017 from former boss Ange Postecoglou.

And his taste of the high life has him dreaming big.

“It was a bit surreal, to see the people who you watch on TV and you admire, in person,” he said.

“I want to keep grounded. And maybe be there one day for best player not best goal. That should be everyone’s goal, right?”


Warland woe but De Silva’s back for Sky Blues

There’s been some mixed news on the injury front for Sydney FC just a couple of weeks out from the start of the Hyundai A-League season.

Promising young defender Ben Warland looks set to miss the early part of the 2018/19 campaign after fracturing his foot in pre-season training.

It’s understood the 22-year-old, who is back-up to Alex Wilkinson and Jop van der Linden, could be out of action for up to three months.

But the news is better for playmaker Daniel De Silva, who is set to return for Saturday night’s FFA Cup 2018 Semi-Final after missing a month with a hamstring injury.

“You’ll see him [De Silva] there or thereabouts. He’s been out for five weeks now but he’s been training the last two or three weeks with the team,” Sky Blues boss Steve Corica said.

“He’s excited, he’s ready to go and excited to get back playing.”

Daniel De Silva

Riera helps Roar land Lopez

Brisbane Roar boss John Aloisi is excited by the potential of new recruit Alex Lopez, and he has Wanderers striker Oriol Riera to thank for helping to land the classy midfielder.

Lopez told The Courier Mail Newspaper it was a conversation with Riera – who he played with at Celta Vigo almost a decade ago – that helped convince him to come to the Hyundai A-League.

“At first I thought it was too far away from home…but I’m very happy to be here, and Oriol Riera told me how good it was here as well,” Lopez said.

“I sent him a text message, and he said the competition was good and growing stronger.

“It’s a great opportunity for my family and for me — it’s a new experience, a new country.”