Aussies Abroad: Coe's time has come

Less than two years ago, Nathan Coe was sitting on the bench at Danish side Randers wondering if he would ever get a game, now the Brisbane-born shot-stopper is a regular in the Socceroo squad.

Under two years ago, Nathan Coe was sitting on the bench at Danish side Randers wondering if he would ever get a game.

The goalkeeper had spent time at some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but a run of bad luck left him stranded.

Even worse, Coe's national team ambitions were floundering, having not earned a Socceroos call-up since 2007.

But fast forward to today and the 27-year-old has almost cemented a regular position in the Green and Gold squad, providing competition for the Qantas Socceroos' No.1 Mark Schwarzer and back-up Adam Federici.

Coe has played almost every game in the past season-and-a-half for club side SonderjyskE, earning plaudits for numerous impressive performances in the Danish Superliga.

Finally, after spending several years moving around Europe looking for regular game time, Coe is the first name on the team sheet.

It has certainly been one serious rollercoaster ride for the Brisbane-born custodian.

After developing his game at the Australian Institute of Sport, the shot-stopper secured a move to Italian super club Inter Milan thanks to an impressive FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2001.

Coe spent several years in the Milan B-team before an opportunity to play for PSV Eindhoven arose.

Three years in Holland produced minimal game time, before a search for regular football forced a move north to FC Copenhagen.

An injury almost immediately after his arrival hindered Coe's hopes of minutes on the pitch, although he did perform admirably in his few appearances for Copenhagen.

A loan move to Sweden was scuppered after only five games due to injury, and it looked like the club merry-go-round would continue.

Coe was promised football at Randers FC, but after starting several games a change in management saw the Australian pushed back to the bench.

Finally, a swap deal with SonderjyskE saw the goalkeeper secure the elusive goal of so many up-and-coming footballers - regular game time.

And after playing almost every minute in his debut season for the club, Coe was called up for a Socceroos friendly against Egypt.

Despite not making the pitch, the goalkeeper must have done something right, because not long after that he was also picked in the AFC Asian Cup squad.

Speaking recently, the 27-year-old was rightfully enthusiastic about his recent run of game time.

"It has been great," Coe said. "[Playing regularly] has been something I've been searching for, for a long time. And my move to Randers was tough because the coach that took me in there was sacked after I'd played five games, and then I lost my position. But those things happen in football."

"So my next move was just to make sure I'd play. And now at SonderjyskE I play every week. That's something you can't beat, playing week in and week out."

"You learn so much playing, I thought I had learnt a lot being second or third keeper at several clubs, but there is only certain things you learn on a training ground."

"From there I got my chance to play for the Socceroos. To do that you have to be playing week in and week out, so it's great to be doing that."

Coe credits hard work above anything else for his eventual rise to the top, and accepts that sometimes in football goalkeepers have to wait their turn.

"I've been working hard for a long, long time now," he said. "If you do the right things on and off the field then you will get your chance eventually."

"Sometimes it takes longer than others, some people get their chances early, and sometimes it takes a few chances to fully grab it."

"As a goalkeeper you have to be patient, as it can take a long time, but at the moment things are going well. It's a combination of hard work and a bit of patience."

Somewhat ironically, SonderjyskE outperformed Coe's former club in last season's Superliga, with Randers eventually getting relegated.

But the goalkeeper was adamant he took no pleasure in the reversal of fortunes.

"To be honest once I left there that chapter was finished," Coe said.

"It was all about our team and how well we could do, it didn't really matter who went down as long as it wasn't us! It's never good for your former team to go down, but someone has to."

Coe will now be hoping to press on and secure a regular national team spot, although competition for the Qantas Socceroos' goalkeeping position is tough.

The evergreen Schwarzer still looks several years away from retirement, while the likes of Federici and Brad Jones both bring serious experience at club level.

Youngsters aplenty will also be hoping for a Qantas Socceroos call; Mitch Langerak, Dean Bouzanis and Mat Ryan are just a few of the potential challengers to Coe's position in the squad.

Facing the press after the Qantas Socceroos' friendly against Malaysia, manager Holger Osieck was asked whether he was worried about the future of Australian goalkeeping.

His answer would have pleased both Australian fans and Coe alike.

"In that respect I have no problem at all. We have a number of excellent keepers, and I'm pretty happy about that," Osieck said.

"We have Mark [Schwarzer] of course, the two boys from today [Federici and Coe], and down the road a couple more."

"Younger, and middle-aged keepers who have the potential to play in our team, so there are no shortage of keepers in our group."

After several tough years sitting on the bench for various European clubs, Coe is now finally back in the Qantas Socceroos' spotlight.

In less than two years he has burst back into the Australian football calculations, and with a little more luck could find himself a Qantas Socceroos regular after Schwarzer retires.

Given what he has endured to get this far and the events of the past 18 or so months, you would be brave to bet against him.