• Jonathan Aspropotamitis has been impressive for Western Sydney Wanderers this season (Getty Images)
The promising Western Sydney Wanderers defender and university student has a big workload on and off the field - and that is just how he likes it.
By
Greg Prichard

20 Apr 2017 - 12:57 PM  UPDATED 20 Apr 2017 - 12:57 PM

Opposition strikers might have trouble spelling his name, but they'll know who Aspropotamitis is after the progress the young central defender has made this season. "Aspro" is certainly giving them a headache.

TWG: You're commonly known now as Jonathan Aspro. Are you OK with that?

Jonathan Aspropotamitis: Yeah, I'm perfectly fine with that. I know a lot of people find it difficult to pronounce my surname, so Aspro is fine with me.

TWG: You must have a history of people spelling your name wrong on forms, right?

JA: Yeah, there's a long list of people who have got it wrong and, to be fair, it's not an easy one to get right first-up, so I can't blame them.

TWG: What did the teachers call you at school?

JA: They just called me Jonathan. They didn't even bother with the last name, they were too smart for that.

TWG: From the outside, it looks like you've made massive strides with your football this season. Is that how it feels to you?

JA: It's been great to get a run of games with the team and playing with the same back four for a long period of time obviously helps with continuity.

We know all of our strengths and weaknesses and we adapt out on the field. We know we can rely on each other to put our bodies on the line and do a job.

It's been an easy transition, coming into the team, with so many good players around me.

TWG: Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was one of the great Australian centre-backs. Sometimes, what he says must be like a light switching on over your head, right?

JA: Yeah, for sure. It's been a pleasure to work with 'Popa' for several years now, and 'Foxey' (assistant coach Hayden Foxe) as well.

Both centre-backs, who played in the Premier League and for the Socceroos, and to learn from them every day is something I'm grateful for and which I'm applying to my game all the time.

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TWG: Do you live for football? Could you imagine life without football?

JA: I probably could, to be honest. Obviously it's a big part of all of our lives, whether you're a player, a coach or a journalist, but I think there is much more to life than football.

In the end, it's what we love and if it wasn't there it would leave a hole in our lives, but life would go on. We'd all find something else to concentrate on.

TWG: Have you got time for a girlfriend, or are you flying solo and concentrating on football for now?

JA: Very much solo at the moment, still scouring around to see what's out there and pick the right one.

TWG: What are the things most important to you away from football?

JA: Obviously family is number one, it always comes before anything else, even football.

The support I get from my parents and my older brother is crucial, because in any walk of life you need that support to be successful. You can't do it all on your own. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today.

I've got my family, and I've got my mates as well, whom I've kept from school, and they keep me grounded all the time. There's always good banter between us and we have a good laugh and that takes my mind off football as well.

TWG: What do you do to switch off from football?

JA: I love the water - I love going down to the beach and having a swim, but I've also got my uni studies as well.

If I've got an assignment or something to do, I can switch off from football completely and do that. It gives me a good release.

TWG: What is the course you're doing?

JA: It's a business management course at UTS, in the city. I'm mainly there part-time, so I go in there twice a week for my classes and the rest of the time I'm busy with tutorial work and assignments, which is good. It fills my time.

I know from being in the professional football scene there are a lot of players who don't have exposure to something like that, but it's something I couldn't imagine not doing.

When I come home from training, I really need that workload to keep my mind ticking over.

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Western Sydney Wanderers defender Jonathan Aspropotamitis is looking forward to facing Brazilian stars Oscar and Hulk when the A-League side play SIPG Shanghai in the AFC Champions League.

TWG: You're only 20, but you sound like you're mapping your life out. Where do you want to be when you're 30?

JA: Obviously there are ambitions to further my football career and keep improving, because I know I've still got a lot of improving to do in every aspect of my game and I try to do that every day at training.

I'm trying to get better and sharpen up a few things in order to be the best player I can be.

I'm like any young Australian footballer who aspires to go over to Europe to play at some stage, but I understand the process you've got to go through to get there and that involves a lot of hard work and persistence, and I'm prepared to do that.

You've got to play regularly in Australia first and one day there might be an opportunity go over, but in the meantime you've got to stay grounded and work hard.

TWG: Is there a TV show or a movie that really cracks you up?

JA: I don't watch a lot of TV series. The last series I really got into, that was a good laugh, was How I Met Your Mother.

TWG: Finally, if you wanted to pump yourself up for a game with music, what would you listen to?

JA: That's something I used to do, probably with some house music mostly.

Something that really gets you going and pumps you up - a nice, heavy beat and really gets your mind ticking over.

But I stopped doing that because sometimes you can get a bit too rolled up into it and too emotionally attached to do what you've got to do out there on the field.