The Silent Assassin

Quiet, reserved and deadly; DANNY ALLSOPP may not make the headlines but he’s firing Melbourne to victory yet again this season

Quiet, reserved and deadly; DANNY ALLSOPP may not make the headlines but he-s firing Melbourne to victory yet again this season

EVERY season has a story; an outstanding player who defines the memories of the competition. Who-s done it this year in the Hyundai A-League? Shane Smeltz at Wellington Phoenix? Charlie Miller at Queensland Roar? It-s a good bet no one said Danny Allsopp.

The big Melbourne Victory forward has hardly hogged the headlines this year; he rarely seems to do interviews and when he does, he-s softly spoken and never seems comfortable in the spotlight.

And yet during his time at Melbourne, Allsopp has been one of the A-League-s best strikers. In the all-time records, he sits just three goals behind teammate Archie Thompson; he won the Golden Boot in season 2006/07, and this year looks set to overtake Shane Smeltz as Melbourne continue their run beyond the regular home-and-away season.

This term, Allsopp has popped up time and again to score vital goals for Victory, yet alongside the exuberant Thompson, his quiet demeanour means he deflects attention much in the same way he did Adelaide United defender Sasa Ogenenovski in last week-s major semi-final first leg. Does that lack of attention means he can go about his game without the constant pressure to score?

“I don-t think I don-t ever feel under pressure at Melbourne,” he says. “Sometimes you get judged pretty harshly and I don-t think about it too much.

“It-s great playing with Archie because we have a good understanding up front and we know each other - but all the other teams know about us and it-s not really a big surprise what they-re going to get.”

It-s somewhat surprising that some fans are still not convinced of Allsopp-s worth to the team; it-s true that when he-s been in scoring form, Melbourne have been victorious.

Typically, though, if you ask Allsopp about his own form, he shrugs it off.

“I-ve been pretty steady this year, I don-t think there-s been too many lows or real highs, just getting on with it and taking it week after week, so I think I-ve had a pretty good season so far.”

Pretty steady? Pretty good? With 11 goals so far this season, surely there-s more to it than that?

“My job-s been different [this year],” he says. “In season two I had to do a lot more. I was getting all round the place a bit more than this year, whereas we-ve got other players who do a lot more; my job has been made more simple, and that might have been in the past that I was trying too hard.”

It would be easy to mistake this kind of response for nonchalance, but there is obviously more to Danny Allsopp that the media will ever get to see. Twice this season we have seen part of the hidden personality: his shoulder charge into former Sydney FC coach John Kosmina in round 17, and his “quiet down” response to Adelaide fans after scoring Melbourne-s late second goal last weekend. A player would only do these when he has taken something personally, whether it be enmity with the outspoken Kossie or jibes from a section of the crowd. He may not say much, but Allsopp-s actions reveal much about the man.

Similarly, when Ognenovski tugged on his shirt before he scored that second goal, many players would have given in to the temptation to play for the penalty. Ognenovski, already on a yellow card, would surely have been sent off had Allsopp milked the moment. Instead, he was more interested with winning the ball and putting away yet another decisive finish.

“I-ll go down if it can-t be helped,” he says of the moment. “I don-t think there-s any place for milking it and trying to get people sent off, so it wasn-t something I thought about. I was more concerned with getting in a front position, it did sort of cross my mind but I realised it was a good chance to score a goal.”

It-s refreshing to hear that, because lot of players would have gone down. “A few people have said that, but that-s just the way I am.”

TEAM SPIRIT There seems little doubt that Melbourne Victory boast one of the tightest squads in the A-League. They have a roster of players who have stuck with the club for a number of years, and while other teams are suddenly being plundered from rivals and cashed-up Asian clubs, there are hardly any rumours surrounding Victory players. This doesn-t mean offers haven-t been made, but Victory, as usual, keep everything in the club.

“That was something we addressed as players,” Allsopp reveals. “Whatever people are going to do next season … we-re close as a team and no one wants to ruin it for anyone else with speculation or talk, so that-s really a credit to anyone who won-t be with us next season.”

Now 30, it must be on Allsopp-s mind in someway whether the opportunity to play overseas will present itself for him again. The Melbourne-born player spent seven years playing in England before returning to work with Ernie Merrick, who first coached him at the Victorian Institute of Sport.

“I-ve got another year on my contract and I-m really happy here and I haven-t given it any thought at all.”

Not even with all the talk of trebled wages for a stint in Korea or China?

“I haven-t really given it much thought,” he says. “It-s difficult for the clubs to try and keep players, and the new teams want to get players. I-m sure all the players give 100 per cent regardless of where they-re going to be playing next season. I haven-t really thought about it.”

What about the international game? After leading the line for Pim Verbeek-s A-League Socceroos against Indonesia, does he still harbour ambitions to break into the first team in time for the 2010 World Cup?

“My wife said to me a couple of years ago that I should aim for that; it-d be great but I have to take it a step at a time. It was good to get a start for the Socceroos in Jakarta recently and hopefully I-ll get another chance because I really enjoyed it.”

As usual, Allsopp quickly brings the conversation back to the present, and the one game between them and the grand final at the moment.

Despite the excellent result in Adelaide, Victory players will be the first to tell you that the tie is far from over.

“We would have taken the 2-0 before the game any day of the week,” Allsopp admits, “but it-s a great result over there and now we-ve got the rest of the job to do at home. Some people are saying it-s already over but we-re not looking at it like that; it takes one goal and it all changes again. The boys know what the task in hand is and we-re not going to be complacent.”

It-s clear that one thing Danny Allsopp is not, is complacent, just what opposition defences want to hear.