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Norwich nightmare spurs on Theoklitos

4 January 2011-SBS EXCLUSIVE: Philip Micallef

Determined ... Michael Theoklitos has regained the form that earned him an overseas move in 2009 (Getty)

Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos suffered the indignity of conceding seven goals on his senior debut for Norwich City in August 2009.

It would be the only match he ever played for the Canaries and seven months later his contract was terminated by mutual consent.

Theoklitos could have reacted negatively, sulking all the way back to Australia and cursing his rotten luck.

But the 29-year-old is made of sterner stuff and he wisely chose to take his mishap on the chin, pick up the pieces of his shattered career and start all over again.

The supremely fit goalkeeper is in sparkling form and he has kept 10 clean sheets this season, which is remarkable considering he plays for such an attacking team as Brisbane.

"Norwich was a tough period for me but luckily I have laid that episode to bed and I have shown what a capable goalkeeper I am," Theoklitos told The World Game.

"If anything, my short stay in Norwich taught me a lot as a professional player and a person. It was a lesson in life.

"It made me hungrier than ever and made me appreciate how important it is to be happy playing football in an environment you like.

"It definitely changed me. Football in Europe is very different to ours. It is very cut-throat. I got one opportunity and things didn’t go my way, a new coach came in and it got tougher.

"It was a bad experience which I will never forget but it’s just a memory now and sometimes you have to put a positive spin to a negative episode in life."

Theoklitos denied claims he angered the Canaries by failing to turn up for a match against Gillingham.

"I rolled up late for a match because I got my wires mixed up," he explained.

"It’s not that I did not turn up but I was half an hour late."

Theoklitos is enjoying a new lease of life with all-conquering Brisbane, which is hot favourite to land the premiership and championship double after beating closest rival Adelaide United 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium at the weekend.

"It was a great result at the weekend. Not many teams go to Hindmarsh and take all three points," Theoklitos said.

"Considering we had a few players out, we are very happy with the result."

Brisbane has an 11-point buffer over the Reds and only a dramatic reversal of form could deprive Ange Postecoglou’s troupe of entertainers of the title they so richly deserve.

In-form Theoklitos is poised to become the first player in the A-League to win three championships, having won two titles with Melbourne Victory in 2007 and 2009.

"Obviously our attack has earned a lot of praise this year because it has scored a lot of goals," he said.

"But we’ve been doing the job in defence as well. We’ve been very solid.

"The boys in front of me have been tremendous and so far we have kept 10 clean sheets.

"Especially Luke DeVere and Matty Smith. And the wingbacks Shane Stefanutto and Ivan Franjic do not just do a defensive job but start our attacks. They are so comfortable on the ball.

"We play an open brand of football so there is a risk of leaving a few holes at the back but the boys up front have been working hard to stop the opposition when our attacks break down.

"We are doing well collectively in attack and defensively. It’s all very positive."

Theoklitos said there was a feeling among the playing squad that this is their year.

"It’s 19 games undefeated now, which is a magnificent achievement considering it’s such an even competition due to the salary cap which is not designed for teams to go on a run," he said.

"We have the belief. We’ve shown our strength and character all year round."

Brisbane could wrap up the Premiers' Plate in the next fortnight if results go its way but Theoklitos refuted suggestions the team might struggle to retain its standards in the ‘interim period’ leading up to the playoffs.

"I don’t think we’ll lose momentum if we win the premiership too early," he said.

"All year round we have spoken about performances not results. Each game we go into we want to work on things in order to get better. That’s something Ange has instilled in us.

"We are 11 points clear so we are now in a good position where we do not need to get a result in every game so we can work harder on a few things in our game to get it right for the finals.

"I’ve been fortunate enough to play for two exciting teams but I tell you the way we’re playing we could dominate the local game for the next three years. The signs are good.

"But having said that until we win some trophies we can’t say we’ve had a successful year."

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