Growing Up Football
Alistair Edwards has been put in charge of developing Australia’s next generation of footballers. One just needs to look at his own sons, Cameron (20) and Ryan (18), to see that he just might be the right man for the job. OS Aussies caught up with the younger of the two brothers, Ryan, who told us about life at Premiership-bound Reading and what it was like growing up with a father with an encyclopedic knowledge of the game.
Yourself and older brother Cameron (20) moved to Reading together at the beginning of this season. How helpful was it to have someone, especially your brother, with you as you embarked on your adventure abroad?
It was extremely helpful. It was definitely easier on my parents, especially Mum. People don’t realize how hard it actually is to pack up and move so far away from your friends and family at a young age, and especially for football. I was at the AIS for a year (2010) so I think that helped me a lot becoming used to being away from home so I’ve coped really well and matured very much. Cam and I get along really well, we’ve always been close, and we’re great friends as well as brothers.
How has Adam Federici helped you and Cameron since you’ve been there?
Having another Aussie apart from my brother I find really helpful. Feds is such a class keeper, and definitely will be one of the best in the Premiership next season, he speaks to us about the Aussie set up, he’s always in the gym, training hard and doing extra’s, a really good role model for us young players coming through to look up to. In saying that, all the older lads in the first team are really nice and friendly and are always there to help you out, the likes of Jobi McAnuff, Jem Karacan, Mikel Leigerwood, all players to look up to.
What was your first impression when you arrived at Reading?
My first impression on Reading when I first arrived, though I hadn’t had anything to compare it to, was that it was a very professional club, great feeling about the place, everyone was so friendly and helpful, just like a second family. The set up is great with all ages training at the same venue, cafeteria open for breakfast and lunch, quality facilities in change rooms, training pitches and the gym and the coaching staff are world class.
How has it helped you develop as a footballer? Do you feel it has prepared you for the rigours of first team football?
I feel I have definitely developed further since moving to Reading, and still learning! Reading is known to have produced some great players and it is true. The standard is quality and the knowledge and experience you gain is invaluable. The English game here is so much quicker, intense and stronger which helps you technically because you have to be spot on otherwise you get caught out. This season I’ve trained with the 18s, reserves and first team and each step up is to another level and you have to be ready. To answer the question, I do feel it has prepared me for first team football, I believe I am ready but I still have to get stronger in some areas.
It has been a remarkable season for Reading having won promotion to the Premier League. What is the buzz around the place at the moment?
The buzz around the place is amazing! There is such a good feel and atmosphere around the club. Credit to the gaffa, the staff, the players and the of course the fans, they were all amazing and had a big part in all the success this season. We have a saying of ‘win the next game’ and that was the main focus throughout the campaign and the first team boys did that, they knew how to win games.
How do you feel knowing that you’ll be playing for a Premier League team next season?
I must say, it feels pretty special. It’s every footballers dream to be playing in the Premier League and I am at a Premier League club. It’s arguably the best league in the world! So to have the opportunity to play and become a Premier League player is something I’m striving towards and I can’t wait!
Your father Alistair has played professionally across three continents, represented Australia at the highest level 19 times and is now the Joeys coach. How beneficial was it growing up with such knowledge and experience at hand? Does being Alistair Edwards sons add any extra pressure or incentive to succeed?
So beneficial! My dad is one of my biggest idols, he’s such an inspiration and the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, and continue to gain is quite special and I’ll forever thank him for that. He knows so much, seen so much and played so much and I think I’m quite lucky to have him, firstly, as my dad and secondly, as a mentor and coach. I feel no pressure whatsoever having the title ‘Alistair Edwards’ son’, I’ve never felt pressure from him or anyone, I’ve just gone on with what I had to do, ignored any negatives and focused on the positives and did my talking on the pitch so to speak. Seeing my dad play for Australia and at the top level against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea just makes me hungrier for more.
What are your expectations for next season both at club and international level?
Next season, internationally, I am looking forward to hopefully being apart of the U20 Young Socceroo set up. We’ve got many camps and tournaments coming up, including the world cup qualifiers towards the end of this year so I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got the great news of Paul Okon being appointed Head Coach, which I am extremely looking forward to working with him. He’s been to the top level and played for the Socceroos, so will be great to work with him and learn as much as I can off him while representing my country. At club level, this season I was in the reserves and 18s but next season I want to break in the first team, I know it will be tough but I believe I can do it.
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