New Sydney FC recruit and former Caltex Socceroos defender Luke Wilkshire has set lofty goals ahead of his first Hyundai A-League season.
GOING BACK-TO-BACK WITH SKY BLUES
Wilkshire had his first training session on Monday since signing with Sydney FC ahead of his first campaign in Australia in almost two decades.
And the 80-cap Socceroo says winning silverware and is his major focus as he comes towards the end of his playing days.
“I’m here to help Sydney FC go back to back as champions and to have a good run in the [AFC] Asian Champions League,” Wilkshire said.
“People thought I’d died or something in 2014 after the World Cup omission but I certainly didn’t, I’ve been plying my trade in Europe in the top leagues. I’ve still been doing my thing.
“I still enjoy my football which is why I’m still playing at my age, I feel good physically and mentally and I still have that drive and hunger to play and win.
“The challenge here is to be the first team in Australia to go back-to-back [winning the Premiers’ Plate], that’s the goal and that’s what we’re striving for.”
PLAYING DOWN UNDER AGAIN
Wilkshire has spent his entire career playing in Europe since he left the AIS as a wide-eyed teenager in 1998.
He has enjoyed an illustrious career abroad playing at some big clubs including Middlesbrough, FC Twente, Feyenoord and -most recently - Dynamo Moscow.
“It’s different and it’s exciting to be back here,” the 35-year-old said.
“After 19 years playing abroad, I’ve never played in the Australian League so it’s a challenge and exciting times.
“After speaking to Arnie I’d say that the opportunity worked something up inside me. I had a few opportunities in Russia in the second division, financially it was more rewarding, but motivation wise and for myself and my family it wasn’t so appealing.
“After speaking to Arnie and this opportunity to go back to back, something no other team has done in Australia, Asian Champions League, it’s something that really brought it out of me and interested me.”
FEELING SETTLED IN THE HARBOUR CITY
“I know a few of the guys, whether I’ve played against or with them, and that makes adapting a lot easier,” Wilkshire said.
“I’m looking forward to enjoying this year both on and off the field.
“My parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters and the rest are all ecstatic [for me to be back in Australia]. My wife is Russian, it’s her third time in Australia and she’s excited for it as well. Everyone is happy.
“We’ve settled pretty quickly, we’ve found a place to live that we’ll move into at the end of the week, so far it’s all going alright.”