Reds recruit Pancho going swimmingly
Uruguayan Francisco "Pancho" Usucar admits he nearly didn't made it as a footballer.
Adelaide United's new kid on the block, Uruguayan Francisco "Pancho" Usucar admitted he nearly never made it as a professional footballer, revealing he could have been plying his trade in an Olympic pool.
Although not the typical physique of an Olympic swimmer, the stocky Pancho was a more than capable in his youth and competed in national tournaments in his homeland until his early teens.
Usucar admitted he loved all sports but it was football and swimming to which he was dedicated - football in winter and swimming in summer.
The Uruguayan midfielder eventually devoted his life to football, a decision he would not regret, going on to play for his country at U17 level 13 times, scoring two goals, as well as five appearances for the Uruguay U20 squad.
"When I was younger I liked all sports," he said.
"When I was little I really loved swimming. I competed in Uruguay in where it's like here - summer from December to February. So until I was 12 or 13, summer was swimming and winter was football."
"I competed in national tournaments throughout the summer in Uruguay. I loved swimming but I had to decide between the pool or football and I chose football."
Usucar also revealed some of his former team-mates and opponents went on to feature for the Uruguayan national team who finished fourth in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
"I've been very lucky to play with guys who have now moved on to some of the world's biggest clubs," he said.
"I played against Luis Suarez when we were younger. I was also a team-mate of Martin Cacares who played for Barcelona, Juventus and Sevilla, Maxi Perrera from Benfica and Alvaro Gonzalez from Lazio."
Usucar arrived in mid December and he has since been welcomed by all, admitting Adelaide has a homely feel.
"I found the city to be very beautiful and it has sincerely impressed me," he said.
"Everything is very calm, it reminds me of Montevideo only calmer even though they have a similar population."
"My team-mates have welcomed me with open arms and I already have a good relationship with everyone. I honestly cannot complain about anything."
After missing out on the top-of-the-table clash against Brisbane Roar, Usucar is set to make his debut for United against Melbourne Victory as Adelaide look to end a run of 10 consecutive losses to their fiercest rival.
The muscular midfielder admitted he has been brought up to speed with the rivalry between the two clubs, comparing it to 'El Clasico' between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain's Primera Liga.
"They have told me it is like a 'clasico'," he said.
"They also said it has been a long time since Adelaide have won - 10 games - so hopefully we can win. That's the most important thing."
Pancho could even be thrown into the starting XI with concerns over the fitness of Adam Hughes, Marcos Flores, Cassio and Nigel Boogaard.
The hard-nosed Usucar would slot straight into the centre of the park in his favoured enforcer role.
"I play like a stopper in the centre of the park," he said.
"I don't like to spend too much time on the ball. I like to win in and then I like to move the ball forward very quickly. I'll work hard to get the ball back and move it on."
When asked about the Victory's own enforcer, talismanic captain Kevin Muscat, Usucar admitted he didn't know too much about the 37-year-old, but acknowledged Melbourne will be a formidable opponent.
"No, I don't know him," he said.
"I've only seen how they play as a team but I don't know too much about any of them individually. I know about the striker that is playing for the national team, Robbie Kruse."
"I know they are a strong team. Melbourne are strong and they play more compact than most teams, more tighter."