Sacrifice drives Roo Risdon
Bunbury-raised Socceroo Josh Risdon is on track to be back on the park for the Western Sydney Wanderers early next month, following his recovery from an abdominal injury suffered at the Asian Cup in January.
News surfaced regarding the 26-year-old’s decision to sign with new Melbourne club Western United FC for the 2019-20 A-League season last week, with plenty of discussion about the move within the Australian soccer community.
However, it is very clear when speaking to Risdon that elements of his inner motivation are unlikely to change, irrespective of the shirt he is representing.
“My wife is very supportive and my family have helped me get to where I am today,” he said.
“I’ll never forget the sacrifices that my parents made for me – driving me five times a week to Perth and taking out time from their work and with my other siblings.
“It was a tremendous effort.
“When I do put on an Aussie shirt, it is extra special — not just for me, but for my family as they know they have helped me get to where I am.
“Hopefully I can repay them by doing well.”
It has been a whirlwind 12 months for Risdon, who played for the Socceroos at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia under the guidance of experienced international manager Bert van Marwijk. Although only filling in tempor-arily for Graham Arnold, Risdon gained a lot from the Dutchman, who enjoyed sustained coaching success with the Netherlands.
“It was great to work under him,” Risdon said. “Even if it was for a brief moment in time.
“I did learn a lot from him.
“He had a lot of confidence in me before going into that camp prior to the World Cup when my spot was up for grabs.”
A resolute right-back, Risdon takes positional preparation seriously and believes the role has expanded since the evolution of modern football.
“It’s the only position I’ve known during my professional career,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of freedom from the coaches to be more attacking, get up and down the wing and help create chances – along with defending.
“I’m very happy in that position and I always want to build on my game and improve. It’s definitely a position in modern football which has become more important, I think.
“Before my career, the full-backs were mainly ‘stay at home’ defenders – but in this day and age, they also help out in attack and have a lot bigger role.”
Although Risdon still hasn’t ruled out his dream of playing club football in Europe, he is taking steps off the pitch to fulfil another passion – becoming a physical education teacher.
“I’m probably about a quarter of the way through my degree,” he said.
“So that looks like the plan for me after soccer at the moment.
“It’s something that I always enjoyed at school.
“I’m not just a big soccer fan – but I love all sport including cricket and AFL.”
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