Interview: Nikita Rukavytsya

If there is a real feel good story surrounding the squad selected for the 2008 Australian Men’s Football team, is that of Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya.

If there is a real feel good story surrounding the squad selected for the 2008 Australian Men-s Football team, is that of Perth Glory striker Nikita Rukavytsya.

His selection was probably the most surprising of the 18, but as Graham Arnold put it when asked about Nikita-s inclusion, he offers something very different up front.

Ukrainian-born, Nikita moved to Australia when he was 14 years of age, but already a promising footballer. Playing for Perth Soccer Club, his talents were quickly noticed and before he knew it, he was off to Canberra and the Australian Institute of Sport for the next two years (2005-06).

Towards the end of season 2 of the Hyundai A-League and Perth Glory-s season coming towards a miserable end, Rukavytsya signed on as a short-term contract and played the last three games of the season.

A full season later and having played in several matches for the Qantas Under 23-s, he now finds himself heading to the Olympics and he couldn-t be happier.

“I-m over the moon; I-m so happy,” he said, prior to leaving Australia. “I have been training very hard for the past year or so and I am so glad to represent Australia in the Olympics.”

While sympathetic to those that missed out, Rukavytsya is nonetheless glad to have been picked and obviously knows that his electrifying pace is probably the thing that got him across the line.

“There are a few great players that missed out,” he said. “Everybody deserved to be here, but it comes down to 18 players and it-s up to the coach who he chooses, I guess.

“People say that I am pretty quick, so I guess my pace is one of my good attributes that I bring to the game, but I will do anything I can to help the team to be successful.”

Perth Glory somewhat surprisingly has the most number of players represented in the team, with goalkeeper Tando Velaphi and defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley also going to the games. For Nikita it-s not a surprise, as he believes the focus on young players will eventually reap rewards for the club.

“At Perth, there are heaps of good young talent and with three players, we have the most players from the A-League clubs,” he said proudly. “There is also plenty of talent in Perth itself, so it-s good for the development of young players, to know that we can get to this level if given the chance in the A-League.

“We have a good team this year from what I have seen so far; the players are very close and that-s what is good about a team, you have to be close to be successful.

“We have great players and my job is to score goals and help the team win, so I will do my best to do that.”

As for what the next three weeks in camp and then the Olympics itself, the 21-year-old, he is keen to put his best foot forward and is confident the team will do very well.

“I will keep working hard; working on tactics and concentrate on doing well,” he said. “We have a goal, but you have to also take it day by day, do your best and concentrate on your job.

“We have a great squad and I-m positive we can do really well,” he added.

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