Chris Ikonomidis could easily be preparing for a game this weekend somewhere in Europe or Asia given the options at his disposal before this season.
After deciding to leave Italian giants Lazio, the gifted 23-year-old had plenty of suitors chasing his signature.
While his decision to pick Perth Glory over the rest may have seemed strange at the time, Ikonomidis carefully thought-out the best next step in his career.
And the results have been incredible, scoring plenty of goals and playing a key role in Glory’s surge to the top of the Hyundai A-League, while earning a recall to the Caltex Socceroos for last month’s AFC Asian Cup.
“This was always the plan. I considered all options and I felt Perth gave me the best chance to do what I’m doing now,” Ikonomidis tells www.a-league.com.au.
“I wanted to show myself to Australia and with the team and coaching behind Perth Glory for this season, it was a no-brainer to join this club.”
“Personally, I feel comfortable on the pitch with the players I’m playing with,” he added.
“With [Diego] Castro, with [Andy] Keogh, with [Joel] Chianese, Fabio Ferreira and [Brendon] Santalab, we’re understanding how each other play and how we like the ball and you can tell on the pitch that we’re enjoying our football up front.”
It certainly has been a seamless transition for the Sydney-born winger.
In 11 appearances for the club in the Hyundai A-League, Ikonomidis has scored seven goals and contributed three assists.
While Glory have had a string of top-performing players this season, Ikonomidis’ form is a big reason why Glory have opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the ladder.
Melbourne Victory are the closest challengers to Glory in the race for the Premiers’ Plate, but it was Glory who came out on top in the massive top-of-the-table clash from last weekend.
Ikonomidis already had 'special' memories of facing Victory at AAMI Park, scoring a 93rd-minute winner as Glory beat Kevin Muscat’s men 3-2 back in October.
It was the start of his excellent run in front of goal, with Ikonomidis admitting he has worked overtime to improve that side of his game.
“It’s definitely pleasing to be finding the back of the net. It’s something I’ve been working on and it’s the freedom in attack I’m allowed to have which also helps me create chances for myself,” he said.
“We’re always working on the positioning inside the box, the timing of our runs and that final finish as well. We always do extra sessions.”
Asked about Glory’s excellent away record this season - yet to lose on their travels – Ikonomidis said: “We have a great team, a great staff around us that give us everything we need.
“Whether it’s a late-night massage or an extra thing from the sports scientist or the dietician or an extra yoga session.
“We sort everything out according to our travel schedule and everyone seems to be coping really well with it.”
Ikonomidis was one of three Hyundai A-League players to earn a spot in Graham Arnold’s Caltex Socceroos squad at the AFC Asian Cup™, featuring in all five of Australia's matches.
“It gave me a taste and I just want more now,” said Ikonomidis after ending almost two years without a national team call-up.
“Once I flew back to Perth I didn’t want any days off, I couldn’t wait to get back into training and start working on things with the boss and to see all my teammates and all my friends, and just keep going forward and building on what I have done already this season.”
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