My journey as a professional footballer has been a rollercoaster ride, filled with unexpected turns and thrilling highs. It all started in Sydney, where I played in the National Premier League (NPL) for Sydney Olympic. I had previously played in Hong Kong's Premier League for Pegasus FC, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced me to return to Australia earlier than planned.
Despite the challenges of lockdowns and uncertainty, I stayed patient and trained on my own for about 6 to 8 months before getting the opportunity to play for Sydney Olympic. My patience paid off, and I eventually became the captain of the team in my second year. We had a successful season, winning the NPL Premiership. It was during this time that I got in touch with an agent who helped me secure a potential opportunity to play for Sri Pahang in the Malaysian Super League.
The Big Break: Sri Pahang and the Malaysian Super League
The coach at Sri Pahang, Fandi Ahmad, knew some people from Australia who he had played with before, which helped me get a good recommendation. My former coach had also spent a year at Sri Pahang in the early 2000s. After a lot of hard work and exploring opportunities outside of the region, I finally got the chance to play professionally in Malaysia.
The Transition: From Part-Time in Sydney to Full-Time in Malaysia
The transition from playing part-time in Sydney to playing full-time in Malaysia was challenging. I had to focus solely on my football career and perform at a high level as a foreign player. However, I found the team environment in Malaysia welcoming, with a good mix of local and foreign players. The language barrier was overcome by the coach, who spoke both Malay and English, and the local players had a basic understanding of English.
The longer I stay in Malaysia, the easier it becomes to understand what is expected of me and what the coaches want. It takes time to adjust, but it's crucial not to fall too far behind individually or as a team.
The Importance of Diet and Nutrition
Since moving to Malaysia, I've focused on eating well and maintaining good nutrition to have the energy to train and play every day. Hydration is also crucial due to the intense training and sweating, and I make sure to replace lost fluids with water. I also emphasise the consumption of fruits and vegetables for overall health and to fuel my body for optimal performance.
Mental Health and Performance
Being a professional athlete comes with its pressures, and I've learned the importance of mental health and seeking guidance from psychologists. I've learned to let go of overanalysing and not let bad performances affect me for too long. I've also learned the importance of enjoying the game and not putting too much pressure on myself.
Advice for Young Players
For young players in academies who may not get a chance in the A-League and are considering moving overseas, I suggest finding the right agent who aligns with their ambitions and goals. Mental strength and perseverance are also crucial in the face of hardships.
My journey as a professional footballer has been filled with challenges and triumphs. I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had and the support I've received along the way. I hope my story can inspire young athletes to have confidence in their abilities and pursue professional opportunities in football.
Michael Glassock, Sri Pahang - Listen to the full Podcast Interview here: