If Brendon Santalab scores for Wanderers in Friday night’s Elimination Final at Suncorp, he’ll be ecstatic – though his celebration will remain typically reserved. Why? We asked the man himself.
The sight of players unleashing emotions after hitting the net is a trademark of football – a burst of passion,synergy with the fans, pride in the shirt, albeit fleeting.
But Santalab’s energy-efficent celebration is completely the opposite.
Yet it’s something he’s proud of and is emblematic of the "one-percenters" that successful teams like Wanderers - and players like Santalab - strive for.
“We work very hard on the pitch,” the 34-year-old tells www.a-league.com.au in his quiet and considered manner just hours before an emotional awards night in which he won Player of the Year at his club.
“If you throw all your emotion, all your energy into a celebration, I don’t want to reveal any secrets, but you are letting go of a lot of precious energy.
“And it’s funny you have touched on that because it’s something I have in my mind as well.
“In the past I’ve probably been over-excited when I’ve scored and when a chance arrives I may be a little fatigued from the celebration.
“An example is, you might get a chance 30 seconds or a minute after you score.
“And you’re thinking 'how the hell am I going to get to that ball in order to score' if I’ve just sprinted around the pitch to celebrate.
“So it’s interesting. I try to stay calm... but the hat-trick I scored [in March against City] was too much even for me!”
WANDERERS JOY WHEN SANTA DELIVERS
And if “Santa” scores on Friday night, stats suggest, Wanderers will win.
In nine games this season he’s scored his 14 goals, Tony Popovic's men have won six and drawn three.
“It just shows how important my role is within the team. If I’m firing and I’m playing well that it takes a great positive effect on the team and it’s great to have that responsibility," the Wollongong-born and raised striker explained.
“And be a leader and you know any time you score you have a big chance to win the game. The players around me when they know I score, it’s a big confidence booster knowing this statistic.
“It’s big for the confidence when you look at that stat.
"But it’s a collective team effort and some of the assists I’ve had this year have been exceptional with some beautiful passes through to cut open defence.
“Our movement up front has been great at times. And teams are seeing how ruthless we can be in front of goal of late.”
Santalab is certainly wiser after a peripatetic career that began in Parramatta with Power and Sydney United in the precursor to the A-League the NSL, followed by stints in Singapore, Belgium, Hungary, China and in the A-League (for Fury, albeit briefly, and yes, he once did play for the Sky Blues).
“When I was younger, I did take it [football and success] for granted. But now is the time I realise you’re very lucky that you kept going. Because those that take it for granted when they’re young, stop [playing].
“So I was just blessed to keep going.”