Gloveman Tom Glover loves a challenge - which explains why he quit his A-League comfort zone to embrace the battle to be Middlesbrough’s number one in the looming Championship season.
Galvanised by a second coming to the UK, after two seasons on Tottenham’s books as a wide-eyed junior, the budding Socceroo knew the time was right to test the limits of his talent at a club featuring compatriots Riley McGree and Sammy Silvera.
Glover’s four-year deal at the Riverside is testament to the regard he is held in by coach Michael Carrick, as he embarks on a journey he hopes will cement him into Australia coach Graham Arnold’s configurations for January’s Asian Cup and the 2026 World Cup qualification campaign.
The ex-Olyroo, now 25, got a taste of life in the senior team’s inner sanctum as part of the squad for last month’s 2-0 friendly loss to world champions Argentina in China, without quite cracking a debut.
That distinction, however, is unlikely to elude him for too long, especially if Glover wins his head-to-head with fellow new-boy, Senegal international Seny Dieng, and starts the majority of games for his new club.
Whilst the imperious Mat Ryan sits atop the green and gold pyramid, the list of those challenging the Subway Socceroos skipper includes Glover, Adelaide’s Joe Gauci, Sydney FC’s Andrew Redmayne, Charlton Athletic’s Ashley Maynard-Brewer and Peterborough United’s Nicholas Bilokapic.
Elevating those Socceroos aspirations were part of the reason for Glover’s Euro return, but it’s not the full story.
Speaking from the North East of England, where he is crashing with Socceroos midfielder McGree until he finds a home of his own, Glover said: “Middlesbrough came close to going up to the Premier League last season (ousted in the playoffs by Coventry) and that’s one of the reasons why I came here, to hopefully be part of something big.
“There’s a buzz around the place … you can feel the ambition. When I first came to England I was a boy, I’m a man now.
“I’ve got plenty of senior experience behind me (108 games for Melbourne City) and there’s a big difference to where I was then and where I am now.
“I was training with Harry Kane back then as a kid from Sutherland Sharks and you never take anything like that for granted.
“I’ve learned a lot along the way and I think I’m well equipped for what lies ahead here now.
“I had four great years at Melbourne City but the plan for the next stage of my career was always going to be to come back to Europe and push myself and see how far I can go.”
Though he started in the 3-3 midweek draw against League Two Bradford City, Glover rightfully reads little into pre-season line-ups and knows the joust with Dieng will be intense ahead of the August 5 season-opener against Millwall.
“This is European football mate and the competition is always tough … as keepers we’ll be driving each other on,” he added.
“The club have told me I’ll be fighting for the spot and that goes for any player in the team. Nothing is ever handed to you in football, you have to earn it.
“I’ve played a couple of 45 minutes going into the Bradford game - and the more minutes in the legs the better with the season just around the corner.
“Of course, the Socceroos were in the back of your mind coming here. It’s always been a goal of mine to be involved and last month was an important step to get called up for the Argentina game.
“That was fantastic but looking ahead I want to be a regular in every camp possible.”
Though he stands an imposing 1.9m, Glover has devoted many hours to sharpening his ground game, fully aware that dominating in the air and possessing acrobatic reflexes are only part of the resume of a modern keeper.
“These days you have to be a goalkeeper but also that extra man who can be a part of the build up play - ultimately you have to be a keeper and centre back in one,” he explained.
“Being good with your feet is vital and it’s something I’ve put a lot of work into, and is something I’m still chipping away at. Michael Carrick is all for that and I’m only going to improve as a player by being here.
“The gaffer is class - I knew a fair bit about him before I came and what I’m seeing day to day is fantastic. He’s very calm and that rubs off on the boys.”
Glover is reveling having countrymen McGree and Silvera by his side, with the latter already scoring once and providing an assist during preseason.
“Sammy’s settling in well and it’s nice to have Riley and him around because you can rely on each other and hang out together a bit off the pitch.
“We know what Sammy is capable of and he’s been showing it every day at training, whilst Riley’s been doing it for a while here and is already an important part of the team.
“Sammy has big ambitions to also be part of the Socceroos set up - it’s something we talk about a lot. It’s definitely a goal of his.”