‘I’m just a local kid’: Golden boy Roy Krishna on Fiji, Phoenix, Rudan and records

Wellington Phoenix talisman Roy Krishna's rise from honest marksman to Hyundai A-League super star could be the pick of the success stories swirling around the New Zealand capital.

The resurgent Kiwi club have exceeded all expectations this season, and Fijian flyer Krishna, 31, has been at the heart of it all, leaving a trail of records and legends in his wake.

Krishna eclipsed Phoenix icon Paul Ifill as the club's outright leading goal scorer in December and has also overtaken ex-National Soccer League champion Esala Masi as the highest scoring Fijian player in Australian national league football history.

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Last Sunday, he scored his first-ever career hat-trick to overtake Jeremy Brockie’s club record of most goals in a single season (16) and go outright favourite to claim the Golden Boot.

Not bad for a man whose dream was "just to play professionally" when growing up in Labasa, a small town in the Macuata Province, with an estimated population of under 30,000.

Since then, Krishna - scorer of Fiji's first ever Olympic Games goal and the only professional footballer on the national team - has been rewarded with a special achievement award at the Fiji Football awards in recognition for his contribution to the sport.

Krishna's star continues to rise - but what does he think of it all? Earlier this week, www.aleague.com.au caught up with the man himself.

Krishna scored his first ever professional hat-trick last weekend

Q: Roy, congratulations on a wonderful season so far with Wellington Phoenix. Given what you’ve done on the football pitch for both club and country, you must be closing in on national hero status for Fiji. Do you receive a rock-star reception from your teammates and locals whenever you go back home?

Roy Krishna: “I’m just a local kid, not a superstar.

“My teammates were probably a little bit scared of me at first! But they like to think of me as their big brother.

“They treat me like a big brother, they don’t treat me like a star. It’s always good to go home, it means so much to me… I’m just blessed to have it.”

Krishna scored Fiji's first goal at the Olympic Games in 2016

Q: Rugby is the most popular sport in Fiji, but how has football developed since your days of semi-professional action in Labasa to now, where you’re scoring goals for fun in the Hyundai A-League?

RK: “There’s actually a lot of A-League fans in Fiji now watching. It’s a big fan base.

“Hopefully in the future, maybe one day there will be an A-League game in Fiji.

“Whenever I go back people always talk about all the clubs, all the players and the superstars.

“It means a lot to me, that they appreciate it so much.”

FLASHBACK: Krishna helps young star step toward football dream

Roy Krishna

Q: You got your first taste of professional football as an injury-replacement player for Paul Ifill in January 2014. That injury forced Ifill into retirement, and five years later you've blasted past his 33-goal club record. You are now being talked about as a club legend as Ifill was. What do you make of it all?

RK: “I didn't really expect it!

“All I ever wanted as a kid was to play professionally.

“I waited for the opportunity and I am very honoured and privileged that I got it from Wellington Phoenix.

“Paul is a very great model and a very great human being. Whenever we have a conversation he always gives me positive vibes.

“He’s a legend. But I will never be Paul Ifill. I am myself.”

Roy Krishna became Wellington's all-time leading goalscorer back in December 2018

Q: Wellington have been the surprise story of this season. Are you surprised with everything that's happened?

RK: “Not at all. We had the belief from day one when Mark Rudan walked in.

“He made a lot of promises to individual players and we just needed to trust him.

“We believed from the first day of training that there was something special. Where we are now, this no surprise for us.

Mark Rudan

Q: How has Mark Rudan transformed your game?

RK: “He came in and challenged me. It was the toughest pre-season of my life.

“He said 'you can score every week, you can keep the momentum going, you just need to believe in yourself'.

“I was lacking that last season. There were times where I played two good games and I wasn’t probably playing other games as good. He just told me ‘be yourself, concentrate on all the basics’.

“I think I’ve still got a lot to give. I’ve always got a lot to learn, Mark is helping and my teammates are helping as well. I have good players around me who are making my game better.”