Interview: Spase Dilevski

Qantas Under 23 Spase Dilevski chats about his return to the squad.

Spase Dilevski is one of the most experienced players to come through the junior and youth ranks of Australian football, but even when he flew to Malaysia on Tuesday, he was still trying to get to know a few of his Qantas Under 23 teammates in the squad.

Now based in Romania after playing in the first two seasons of the Hyundai A-League with Queensland Roar, Dilevski-s has not featured in the team in the past year, mainly because of injury when the key qualifiers were on late last year.

Now it-s a race against time for the gifted defender/midfielder to be included in the 18-man squad for the Beijing Olympics, with many new players putting their hand up for inclusion in the team for Beijing.

“There are a lot of new faces; it was a bit of a shock when I first came in (to camp), Dilevski said in an exclusive interview with “Normally I know all the boys.

“A lot of the young boys, I heard, had good seasons (in the Hyundai A-League) and I keep in touch with the A-League on the internet. It-s been good to meet some new players.”

The Intercontinental Cup tournament that starts on Friday in Kuala Lumpur with a game against Croatia will provide Dilevski with his only real opportunity to force his way into that final squad.

“It-s always good to come back and put on the green and gold. I am just looking forward to this tournament and playing for the team, “he said of being back in the squad.

“You come into these camps wanting to win, wanting to play well, wanting to show the coach; Arnie (Graham Arnold) and staff that you are worthy of being part of the team and that-s what I am hear to do. I haven-t been here for a year; I went away overseas and I think I have had a good half season, because I was injured the first half of the season.

“So I just want to show what I can do and impress Arnie the way I did back then.”

Few may realize, but Dilevski is the only play from this squad that has tasted an Olympic Games as a player, as the youngest member of the Athens Olympics squad, a testament to his ability coming up through the ranks of Australia-s youth teams.

He would like nothing more than a repeat of that experience, but knows it will be tough to make the final squad.

“It would be good to go there (the Olympics) again. It (Athens) was a great experience. I was one of the youngest players and just playing and training with the squad; I got about 10 minutes or something like that and I still remember it.

“But I am now older and wiser and if I get the call up, I am sure I will take my chance, play well and play good for Australia.”

When Dilevski left Australian shores for a second time (signed with Dutch giant PSV Eindhoven as a teenager), his choice of Romania raised a few eyebrows, given its checkered past of dealings with Australian players including the nightmare endured by Qantas Socceroo defender Michael Thwaite.

But Dilevski is quite happy there, now he has been back playing and looking forward to next season with his club Universitatea Craiova.

“It-s been interesting, a bit up and down. When I am playing it-s good; it-s a good competition, a great bunch of players. I-ve still got two years there; I-m actually really enjoying it and there are few other Aussie boys there, so I-ll just take it as it comes.”