Patience pays off for Celeski

Patience can pay off and for Melbourne Victory’s Billy Celeski’s his patience and frustration over the past couple of years has been rewarded with his call up to the Australian Olympic team squad.

Patience can pay off and for Melbourne Victory-s Billy Celeski-s his patience and frustration over the past couple of years has been rewarded with his call up to the Australian Olympic team squad.

The first time the current Olympic team got together in 2006, Celeski-s football career had been turned upside down when he was released by Perth Glory after the first season of the Hyundai A-League.

It seemed somewhat of a strange decision at the time, given Glory had finished 5th on the table and only just missing out on a finals position by a couple of points and the young attacking midfielder had started 17 of the 18 games he played that season.

That however was only the start of his frustration as time and again while playing in the Victorian State League he was injured, which just happened to coincide with several call-ups to the Qantas Under 23 squad.

Injury and surgery then ruined any plans he had of getting another team for the second season of the Hyundai A-League, but when David Mitchell took the reins at Perth Glory, the young midfielder found himself back at Glory for season 3.

Not surprisingly, Celeski came back into the reckoning for the 23-s and in September 2007, he made his first appearance for the team against DPR Korea.

Having helped the team complete qualification for the Olympics, it was his move home to play with Melbourne Victory in the Asian Champions League that almost curtailed his bid to be part of the squad.

Forced to miss an important trip to Malaysia in May because of his commitments with Victory in the ACL, the thought had crossed his mind that his chance of playing at the Olympic Games was now gone.

“I was out for a while with injuries and missed an A-League season with surgery,” he said from the teams training base in Sydney. “But I think I have done very well every time I have come in for the couple of qualifiers here in Sydney and Newcastle.

“Missing the Malaysian camp, we sort of thought; myself, Broxy (Leigh Broxham) and Wardy (Nick Ward) that it may jeopardise our chances, but I worked pretty hard in Darwin and I got my call up.”

The busy midfielder, who will play as a key man in the attacking third of the pitch, was obviously overjoyed when he got the news of his selection and his now looking forward to knuckling down and trying to get a starting spot for the first game against Serbia on August 7.

“Obviously excitement,” he said, when he first heard of his selection in the team. “But I think for most of us it was more of a relief; it-s been a long campaign and to be announced in the squad was pretty exciting. “Like Arnie (Coach Graham Arnold) said there is 11 spots up for grabs; we-ve got three or four more lead up games before we get to the Olympics and I know I will be working hard to try and get a starting 11 spot in these next games coming up.”

One of the big things he feels got him across the line for a place in the squad was his form for Victory during the ACL and his ability to run in the warm and humid conditions when they played matches in Thailand, Korea and Japan.

“We did play in Asia (with Melbourne Victory) and I coped pretty well with the heat; I would like to think I am pretty fit as well, so I guessed that helped me.

“It was difficult; we played against quality opposition and individuals; we-ve signed Fabiano (from Chonburi FC) for next season; but I enjoyed it and it was a great experience,” he said of the Champions League.

Forced to sit on the sidelines at training, because of a little corky on his thigh, you could tell the playmaker was itching to get out there with his teammates. His role as the playmaker brings with it much responsibility and is something that sits well with him.

“I guess I bring a lot of technique to the team,” he said of his main strengths that he brings to the team. “My passing game is what I also bring, I think.

“The playmaker role is going to be difficult to grab, but I am going to work hard and see if I can grab that starting 11 spot.

Celeski is also looking forward to spending more time on the training paddock and hopefully the pitch as well, with new clubmate Archie Thompson, who unfortunately spent most of his time during the Champions League on the sidelines with injury.

Thompson, as one of the three over age players, will have a major role to play with the team and Celeski believes the potent striker can add a lot to the teams attack in China.

“First and foremost his experience I guess, but going forward he is going to bring us a different dimension with his dribbling and his pace,” he said of the attributes Thompson brings to the team.

“Also just having him around the team; he-s a great character on and off the field, so we are really happy to have Archie in the team.”