He may be an unknown name at national team level, but new Socceroo Chris Ikonomidis has been steadily building his career in the hothouse of Italian football. Just ask our Asian Cup final hero James Troisi.
Back in 2012 Troisi crossed paths with Ikonomidis, then 17, at Italian club Atalanta.
That mateship between Aussie players abroad meant the pair fostered a closeness that remains today.
That bond will be rekindled in the Socceroo camp for the games against Germany and FYR Macedonia.
Ikonomidis, now 19, and currently on the fringes at Serie A powerhouse Lazio, has an interesting story. In fact, it’s not unlike the story of current Socceroo rising star Massimo Luongo.
The Sutherland Shire goal-machine left Sydney as an unknown 15-year-old after being spotted at a youth tournament in England.
Atalanta came in for him after some interest from Arsenal. There he learnt to grind it out, learning the language, learning his trade and toughening up in Italy’s high-level football culture.
With Troisi on loan at Atalanta from Juventus, that helped him develop even further and feel at home. But it was tough.
After developing with the Bergamo outfit and gaining recognition with Aussie youth teams, Ikonomidis was spotted by Rome’s Lazio who signed him in 2013.
Interestingly, he isn’t the first Aussie at Lazio, with Paul Okon signing at the Stadio Olimpico in the mid-1990s.
In the Eternal City, Ikonomidis developed to the point of being on the fringes of the first team and now the Socceroos.
And like Troisi before, Ikonomidis will no doubt form an Aussie bond when Daniel De Silva arrives in Rome – even though the Glory starlet has signed for Roma, Lazio’s bitter city rivals.
Socceroo Match Details
Germany v Australia
Wednesday 25 March 2015
Kick-Off: 8:30pm (CET) (6:30am (AEDT), Thursday 26 March)
Tickets for the Germany v Socceroos match in Kaiserslautern are on sale now from www.dfb.de or https://tickets.dfb.de/online/index.php3?shopid=107&gotoperformance=1849
Match will be broadcast live and exclusive on Fox Sports.