Feature

Lucy Zelic - 'In conversation with': Adam Federici

Adam Federici will make the move to the A-League next season after signing with Macarthur FC Source: Getty Images

Almost every footballer you speak to will tell you that they’ve done it tough in their quest to become a professional

Whether it’s injuries, setbacks, missed opportunities or making the wrong move entirely, every player has a story to tell and no two tales are the same. For goalkeeper Adam Federici, his road to success is unlike anyone’s I’ve ever heard.

Whether it was completing six-hour roundtrips from Jervis Bay to Parklea four times a week for training or sleeping on couches while waiting for the next trial to pop-up in England - the 35-year-old’s love for the game has weathered every storm imaginable.

Throughout it all, the South Coast-born lad has managed to retain his modesty, sense of humour and the kind of perspective on life we could all do with during these strange times.

Here, Federici opens up about his “crazy” football journey, which Socceroos star he leans on and why signing with Macarthur was the right thing to do.  

Lucy Zelic: Firstly Adam, I want to congratulate you on signing with Macarthur. It's such a coup for us to have you here in the A-League but what led to that decision and why was now the right time?

Adam Federici: I think there were a host of things, really. Speaking to Ante, we'd been talking for a while now, and the style and the way he wants to play and the way he was building everything suited me. There were lots of things going on as well - all the crazy stuff going on in the world and it was just the right time and I was also sick of not playing as much as I wanted to over there as well. My next move was always going to be important because I wanted to play week in, week out, which is something that I haven't done the last few years, which is extremely frustrating for me. I think the COVID stuff pushed us that way as well and then you've got the other side of it being a brand new team and that's really exciting - you don't get many opportunities in a football career to say you're the first name on the team sheet of a brand new team in a new area and that was pretty cool as well. So, there were so many different things that aligned together that led to us coming out here and the family side of it as well. I've got two young kids and we wanted to bring the guys out here and enjoy the Aussie lifestyle. I loved my upbringing down here on the South Coast and I wanted my kids to experience that as well. 

Adam Federici
Bournemouth's Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici (C) fails to save a shot from Manchester United's English midfielder Ashley Young (c)
AFP

LZ: Your football story is incredible. As a young boy living down in the South Coast, your parents were driving you to Sydney three, four times a week just to play at Parklea where you were falling asleep in the car. How do you remember that time in your life? 

AF: It was pretty crazy when you think about it. At the time when you're young, you don't give much thought to it, you go with it because you're excited by being involved in something in Sydney. For me, I was like 'woah Sydney, that's quite cool!' I grew up in Vincentia in Jervis Bay so that was a fair old slog to get to the back of Sydney to do that, three or four times a week. My school teachers weren't particularly happy with me leaving school halfway through the day to make training and getting back at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning afterwards either. There was a group of us, a lot of them were from Wollongong so they were a lot closer but most of the people I grew up with, everyone plays football up to a certain age and they lose interest. Everyone did down my way as well, we all loved it and I've said many times before, I was nowhere near the best quality player down here, I just stuck with it and I had the desire and determination to see it through and see how far I could get. But, there's so much quality down here and I remember players travelling further than I did just to get to the Shoalhaven area from the Eurobodalla area and Narooma and places like that. It's obviously a little bit better now but there wasn't many other ways to do it for me. I had parents that I was fortunate enough that would drive me to Sydney because I knew a lot of families that couldn't do that and a lot of time was spent, so the family side of it really, really helped me to actually get a foot in the door as a footballer.

But, there was plenty of kids my age who loved it just as much as me and were twice the player I was growing up that couldn't do the commitments that we made. I'd love to see more pathways for people on the South Coast. It's such a big pool of players and I've been back a week or so now and I've been down to Ulladulla at the weekend and all our friends with 8 year-olds and kids around that age, they absolutely love it. These guys are travelling to Sydney to watch Sydney FC play and it's really great to see. I've got my little girl into school this week and we went into class and the person showing us around said "who likes soccer here?" and the whole class put their hands up so it's great to see but like I said, there's something that happens at a certain age where people can't do it. That drive up for me, it helped me with my "L" license, I tell you that! [Laughs] I filled that book out pretty quickly but I didn't mind it as much when I was a kid - it was quite fun and exciting for me but you can speak to my parents and get a different opinion on that. 

Adam Federici
Adam Federici dives to make a save while playing for Stoke City
Getty Images

LZ: How did you come to know and play football? Was it something that came from your family's love of it or was it something you discovered yourself? How did it start? 

AF: It was probably something more I discovered for myself. I just loved playing. I think it's like that with everyone because when you have conversations with people it's very hard to translate what football is in Europe - it's just so different on so many different levels. You're never going to replicate that here, for one, but also telling people is quite hard to describe. For me, it was just the game and I think that's what it is for a lot of people, because no one's waking up at 4am to watch the Premier League - well not kids anyway, so for me, it wasn't like watching people or watching my favourite team in Europe, it was just purely, I loved the game - the game was great! There was so many of us in my local community in Husky (Huskisson) that loved the weekend competition, the rivalry and the little clubs that we had there. It was very much a community game that brought people together. I think, for outside influences like "I saw Man United play and that's what made me play" - it just wasn't that, it was just purely that my parents put me into football like most kids my age and I just fell in love with it then. I played a lot of different sports as well but there was just something about football that you just fell in love with the actual game of playing. By the way, I wasn't in goal at that time either [laughs], so I enjoyed scoring goals and all the cool stuff that comes with that. 

LZ: So who made the decision to put you in goals then? 

AF: It was a weird one really because I didn't go in goals until I was like 12 or 13 and I was still playing two age groups, so I was playing upfront for the grade above and then playing goalkeeper for my year, so I was playing two games at the weekend. I loved playing up front and I think Norm Boardman, who is a terrific coach, saw some potential. I was messing about in training one day, then we started training together and it took off from there. I think also playing for so long as an outfield player and all that really helped me as a goalkeeper, especially the way the position's developed over the years, it really helped me get a foot in the door in Europe because I was particularly good with my feet. That's probably one of the highlights of my attributes as a goalkeeper. Norm saw potential in the goalkeeping area and that I liked diving around and getting dirty so we used to train together at South Nowra and he definitely got me on my way and was probably one of the biggest influences of me going in goal in the first place. 

LZ: A lot of goalkeepers that I speak to will say the same thing - they never started off in that role. 

AF: You sort of fall into it. When you're a kid you just want to score goals! Again, it's different in Europe - people follow other goalkeepers and from day dot they want to be a goalkeeper and they have a long list of them and they can tell you what they're best at. But as a kid, when you don't have that environment, you just want to run around and be the goal scorer and to be fair, I am still like that. [Laughs]  I've already warned Ante, "I need to be an outfield player slash goalkeeper so just be wary of that". The only annoying thing in training with me is, I still think I'm an outfield player. 

LZ: You made the jump over to England at the age of 17 which are such crucial developmental years for young boys. What was it like leaving home at such a young age, saying goodbye to your family and embarking on this unknown journey in a foreign land? 

AF: It was quite hard because growing up on the South Coast, there's so much here that's not anywhere else. You've got beautiful beaches, I surf -  I was big into that when I was young. I used to get in trouble so much for surfing with football. I came to training once, Kelly Cross was the head coach and he'll probably remember this but I turned up and I split my head open basically, I had scratches all over my face. It was half-time and we were losing, I think, and he just screamed at me and he said, "I hope you bloody haven't done that surfing" and of course I did and I said, "no, no, I fell down the stairs." I used to surf before training, after training, during school, whenever I could, so leaving home was really tough for me. It's such a different place, particularly in the UK - from the food, the people with the culture, getting off the plane in the middle of winter, I think my first stop was Bolton for a trial, so getting off at Manchester in my shorts and t-shirt while it was chucking down with snow was a bit of an eye-opener. It was tough. It took me years to get used to the culture, the banter, the food and all that sort of stuff. It's hard to put into words and I wouldn't really know how to because I have this conversation all the time, people always ask what's it like. The football clubs in Europe, for the town, it's just everything everyone talks about. It's the number one thing on the news, it's plastered everywhere and it's big to deal with. I suppose leaving Australia was huge, it was just so different. Doing it on my own and the way that I did it was particularly hard, is probably the best way I can describe it. There was no league to go into after the AIS, so there was nowhere for me to go. What I had to look at was the Socceroos and you've got all the people breaking through in England at that particular time and I was like, that's the place I want to be and that's the place I wanted to go to. That was the main reason for going but I didn't have a background or an A-League club where I played 'x' amount of games. I was going from this young kid from the middle of nowhere to the UK, so that was particularly hard as well, trying to get my foot in the door when people just looked at you funny because you had a pair of shorts on and were wearing thongs. The number of places I turned up with a massive suitcase going for a trial and they were like "oh geez, you've got a massive suitcase" and I was like "well I'm not going home, I'm expecting to sign here and I've come to play for you, not just to have a week here of training" so that was my attitude going over. It was extremely difficult not to have any sort of background, apart from these DVDs I had of me training and playing for the AIS, which I sent everywhere trying to get trials. 

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Reading - Etihad Stadium
Adam Federici in action for Reading
PA Images

LZ: You did manage to get trials at a few clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers before you were eventually picked up but they were off-contract situations, is that right?  

AF: They were all trials - I was there but I wasn't there basically. All of the clubs, Wolves and Leeds, probably officially I was there, I think I did a non-contract thing just in case I was needed, but they weren't paying me or anything. It was more trial based and those two clubs, I was at my trial for a good few months, so I was probably there the longest but I did that all over Europe. I did that for a long time. I had these DVDs and sent them across England basically to every club and just waited for responses and worked with different agents trying to get trials. Most clubs would put you up and some clubs you'd stay with the kitman. In terms of being picked up, that's sort of not what happened. I eventually got my foot in the door with Reading but most of the stuff was trial based where I just went to a club for a few weeks and travelled around. I went to Italy and a few other places - a similar sort of story. This is the extremely short version because obviously it was a lot tougher than it sounds. You're on your own, running around different clubs and not knowing how you're going to pay for things or do things and being a kid across Europe. 

LZ: That’s crazy Fedders! 

AF: Yeah it was. When I do speak about it, I realise now how crazy it was. It's definitely character building, I can say that I'm definitely the person I am today because of all that. I definitely appreciate the games that I have played. To play any sort of football in Europe or to win anything or to do things that I have - I'm well aware I'm not Mark Schwarzer with 600 bloody Premier League games - but just to make it to the Premier League and to step out on the pitch was a hell of an achievement for me personally. That's sort of what I define as success for me because I probably shouldn't have had any sort of a career, really for what I went through. It is a very long story and I've got loads of personal stories that maybe I'll tell one day of the in-betweens and what I did between clubs and the times where you're just sitting around at airports waiting for something to come up or another trial to come up or another club to get in contact. You're in Europe and you don't know what to do but I'd done that for years and I have such gratitude for how it turned out eventually. There were times where you'd call home and your parents would be telling you to come home but I just didn't want to leave. Having been in the game so long, seeing people in training - you can't replicate training to games and there are so many people I'd see where they're fantastic trainers but terrible in games and vice versa as well. I've seen so many people that are just rubbish in training but they're unbelievable in games. So, I wanted the opportunity just to have a game basically, I was like "well, I'm not going home til' I prove that I can or can't do it." The thing of not knowing was what kept me going at that particular time. I needed to find out whether I could play in front of 60,000 people and thankfully I got my foot in the door at Reading and it was a very special club and always will be for so many different reasons. The people there, it was such a family orientated club and Steve Coppell at the time - the way he ran the club and how they did things - you won't find anything like it in football ever again. It was such a beautiful team. When I was coming through, the people in front of you, the professionalism - they just wanted to build something special. There was no multi-million dollar owners and things like that, we built it from scratch with a lot of hard work and a lot of good people and I think they just saw something, particularly the goalkeeping coach at the time, saw something in me and thankfully gave me the opportunity eventually to work my way up through that club. 

LZ: The mental resolve that you have is incredible. This is something that we talk a lot about with the youngsters coming through in football now because one of the biggest criticisms is that they lack that kind of mental strength. Nowadays, a lot of these young kids that go off to Europe, when they run into some difficulties, it's easy for them to come back to the A-League and use it as their safety net. Knowing how strong your ties were to your home here in Australia and the fact that you still stuck it out over there and grafted for years - I don't know of many other players that I've spoken to that have gone through something similar. It’s phenomenal. 

AF: Thank you, I appreciate that. I do understand that argument - I've heard you make it, I've heard people talk about it a lot. But, the flip side of it I completely understand as well, it is so different, so I never want to judge people that go over there and say, "look, it's not for me. I'm going to try and have a great career in the A-League" and you need that as well to keep the A-League going. You don't want all your best players disappearing to Europe but at the same time, you're completely right, you need to be pushed sometimes and you need to go through some really hard patches to get to a different level and I think that's in all walks of life, with suffering and things like that. You do need those things to push yourself to be a better character, so I see both sides. It's a really hard conversation to have about that and you're balancing you want the best league possible here, the highest quality and you want to be producing unbelievable players, but you also want them to go be tested at the best. You want them to be able to go over there and showcase what we've produced as well so it's just a hard one to get right and balance but it is great to have an A-League or a national league that you can showcase to the world. I know a lot of the lads do watch it over there. You wake up, it's on TV over there and you come into the dressing room before a game and someone will go "oh I was watching Sydney play. It was pretty decent." A lot of people do watch it, probably more than you know, so it is great to be able to showcase Australia has got a very strong league and I'm looking forward to playing in it. 

LZ: I want to go back to some of the highlights that you've had and when you talk about your career you're very modest about it but to win the Championships Golden Glove Award and also Readings Player of the Season Award in 2014, you're no mug Fedders...

AF: I suppose I'm just a little bit hard on myself, you know? When you went through what I did to get my foot in the door, I wanted the rest of it to come and like I said, it wasn't a sparkling career that I wanted or tried to have. There's a lot of factors and I suppose a lot of things have got to go your way - I think I just got some injuries at the wrong time when I moved to Bournemouth and that move didn't particularly work out for me. Leaving Reading was obviously a really hard thing to do. But, going back to the Championship, it's is an extremely, extremely tough league and it's very hard to talk to people about it because people probably think the quality's not that great but the quality is great, it's just you have so many games and it's just a relentless, tough league, especially if you got a small squad, which we did. So, to win that, particularly the way that we did it, we were defensively really good, we kept a lot of clean sheets, we didn't have huge financial backing and that team - I'm still best friends with lots of the boys from that squad, it was a very, very special time. To get promoted from that league, to win it the way that we did - I think we were mid-table halfway through the league and the points we collected at the back end of it was just incredible. I'm sure you know,

Shrewsbury Town v Stoke City - FA Cup Third Round
Adam Federici of Stoke City (L) and Josh Laurent of Shrewsbury Town
Getty Images

Alfie le Fondre - just people like that, he's a goal scorer, he just loves scoring goals and the amount times he’d just come on and nick us a win. We seemed to win every game one-nil but they're the best results in football when you win something at the end of it. It was extremely tough, that year was very, very hard but the reward of getting to the Premier League for me was just the biggest thing ever. When that time did come around, I probably didn't handle it that great - I'd never seen anything like that coming from where I did. [Laughs] I had a taste of it when I was with Reading and I made my debut long before that when we were in the Premier League but to be a number one in the Premier League was a different step up. Not so much the game but more so the spotlight, I'd say. It was pretty intense how the lights go on once you've made that move. I had no real background or experience to draw on so it was tough. I did struggle a little bit through injury but I did put a few games together and they were unfortunate that year to go down. There was a lot of things going on that year with ownerships and changing of hands that saw us relegated but it does build character and we gave it a good few shots after that before I left. To get player of the season as well, that was a really tough season. When you come down from the Premier League and try and build again and restructuring a team - that was really tough, so that was a nice ending to my time at Reading.

LZ: One of your highlights that stand out for me was that FA Cup fifth-round tie in 2007 at Old Trafford, which nobody expected Reading to come away with a draw. But also, the players that you played against, particularly that Manchester United side were special - Carrick, a young Cristiano Ronaldo, Rooney, Ferdinand plus you were led by a former Red in Steve Coppell but overall, the calibre of players that you took on in your time were huge. Who stood out to you? 

AF: To be fair, it was sort of a blur at that particular time when I was playing, I was still finding my feet at the club. That patch of games came about while I was travelling about, I wasn't settled, I don't think I was signed properly there either, I think I was on a non-contract basis at the time and it was so surreal. I think their first game was against Burnley at home and that was my first game ever and that was the moment, like I was saying, I wanted to know if I could do it and it proved a point to myself that I could do it and I loved it. I think the next round was Birmingham away and again, I did particularly well but it was just very surreal to play a game, I was like" what is this?" and then to be drawn at Old Trafford at that time, having slept on one of the boys couch for the year, it just didn't seem right. Then, walking out there and seeing the stadium and the reaction after, as you can imagine, my brain was pretty frazzled at the time anyway but to do that and then have to play them the week after and obviously, you know what happened, but it was so much emotionally to deal with and it was pretty crazy looking back on it. The calibre of players I was fortunate enough to play with and against some fantastic players, obviously, at the time Ronaldo wasn't as big as he is now but the spotlight was on him, definitely. He was all everyone was talking about so it was fantastic to play against him but as a goalkeeper you can't show fear and at the time, I didn't really know anyone either. That was probably beneficial to myself, really. Particularly back then, you had to wake up every morning at 3:00 to follow every league and it's not like you have Twitter now either where you can just follow what people are talking about, so I didn't really know anyone that much or I didn't pay attention. I was very naive about what was going on in the news - it's just so different now in comparison to 10 years ago. Everything is everywhere, every player - you know everyone and back then it was a little bit different so it worked in my favour a little bit. Knowing who those players were but not to the extent you do now was probably helpful in just going out there and thinking "oh well, it's just a ball and I've got to catch it and try and save it" - but that's what I used to think! Then Twitter come along and spoilt that but that was an experience in itself going from not having social media, to having it as a footballer was pretty crazy. I was fortunate enough to play against loads of different players, but there were really good teams. When Berbatov was at Tottenham - we had some crazy games against them as well. 

Adam Federici
Manchester United's English defender Chris Smalling (L) has his header saved by Reading's Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici (R)
AFP

LZ: Tell me, who had a better touch in the world than Berbatov did? Nobody!

AF: I love how he was just so casual but could do so much. He was fantastic to watch in passing and to play against but there were loads of them around that time. Manchester United was obviously one of the strongest, their team was pretty crazy. That Man City team over the years as well, that was pretty scary - playing against De Bruyne and those sort of guys, especially when their standing over a ball on a free-kick, you just don't know what they're going to do. But, I really enjoyed all that sort of stuff and I try not to pay attention too much to people's profiles. When you're in that football bubble over there, you know everyone anyway and it takes that fear factor away. It's been pretty cool to be apart of it - I'm just extremely grateful that I was there and it was a hell of an experience.  

LZ: I want to talk about that goal you scored in the 96th minute against Cardiff in 2008. I love watching the celebrations because after you score, everyone goes wild and then the team mascot comes running in and it was just brilliant! How was it for you? 

AF: It was really cool. Like I said, that was a very special team. Everyone was so close on and off the pitch and it was such a good group of lads. Cardiff aren't local rivals but when we played in the play-off final, we had them in the semi-final, so we've got a bit of a rivalry with Cardiff but it was just crazy. When you're young, you think you can do everything, like I said, I thought I was a striker so I was desperate to score, but I'd go up all the time and I think the only time it hasn't worked was when we played Chelsea away at Stamford Bridge and I got in a running race with Torres and it didn't go well because he went up the other end and scored! It was something that the previous keeper Marcus Hahnemann did but I was all over it to go up if we were losing one-nil. I'd sort of just give the bench a little look and see if I was allowed to and then off I'd trot. It was great, I went up there thinking I'm going to score, that's the only reason I'm there. When it went in, it was pretty crazy, it was a great feeling and afterwards, I just couldn't stop laughing. We were in the dressing room and Steve Coppell was trying to give his team talk and I'm just pissing myself laughing in the corner. I had the giggles like a four-year-old! I just couldn't wipe the smile off my face - it sounds weird, scoring a goal for a goalkeeper shouldn't be the highlight but it was just so much fun, it was so enjoyable that moment. Funnily, enough, Brendan Rodgers was the manager the following season and we had the same situation, it was Cardiff at home and obviously I've gone up and they had all the same staff and they were like "oh, here we go again." The ball fell to me again and I've actually bicycle kicked it and the keeper bloody saved it! I still think about that today. I just wish I didn't go for placement, I went for power but I've got a cool little picture of me doing the bicycle kick in the box so that was the goal that never happened

LZ: You mentioned Coppell and he obviously had a big impact on your career but were there any other notable managers throughout your footballing journey that had an effect on you?

AF: Everyone did. There wasn't too many that I'd say didn't. Brendan Rodgers was a fantastic manager, I really enjoyed it. He came in after Steven and it was a hell of a job because there was a thing called ‘The Reading Way’ and we played a particular style of football that everyone was used to so when Brendan came in and he was total football - it was really new at that time, particularly in England. We as players loved it but we were all 20, 23 so it was very hard to play that way in the Championship, so it didn't go particularly well but as a coach and as a person, Brendan just wanted the best for you and his training sessions were stuff that we'd never seen before. He used to write out one session in English, one session in Spanish and he was really cool like that. He'd done a lot for us as well, for example, for some of the defenders, because he come from Chelsea, he'd set-up a lunch for the players with John Terry and get the defenders to have a chat with him about the position and try and help them further their careers which I thought was great. His training was so elaborate and so different and I know he's still like that today. He's obviously become a very successful manager. Eddie Howe has just done a tremendous job with Bournemouth. I was devastated when I left, I said, "I really wish it worked out here for me" but I only left because I really wanted to play football and got promised at Stoke that Jack would leave and all that sort of stuff. It just never quite happened the last few years for me, which is extremely frustrating on my behalf. I got a few injuries at Bournemouth trying to push myself in the team a little bit too hard but Eddie's a special manager and he should get a big job eventually. 

LZ: I’m surprised he hasn't gotten a bigger job. I was gutted when they got relegated because he seems like a bright manager and I loved the football that the Cherries played under him.

AF: The football was great, but what he did with the players, particularly when I was there, the majority of the players came from League One and he turned them into Premier League players. There are not too many managers that can say that but when you're there, you really understand. I don't know if he ever saw his family - as soon as the sun rose, he was there. There's just so much stuff I could go through of what they do on a day-to-day basis, how professional he was and how much he just wanted to get the best out of every single player. Everything he put in place at that club was crazy and I could probably spend a good hour talking about all the stuff that he implemented within the club and the way he'd done things and the way he coached. He would drag something really special out of you. He is a top manager and I think most of the lads that were there would say that he's had a massive impact on their career for sure. 

Socceroos Training Session
Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici in action during a Socceroos training session
Getty Images

LZ: What about your time with the national team? Can I be completely honest and say I feel like I wanted to see more of you in the Socceroos side over the years? For a period there you weren't being selected at all and I wondered if you'd fallen out of favour with Postecoglou?

AF: I felt like that personally. I love Ange, I really enjoyed the way he wanted to play and obviously, there was a lot of criticism towards the formations and the way he was playing but I personally loved it. I loved playing the high line, it suited me to a tee. I just think it was simply he didn't probably know me that well and he wanted to push Mat (Ryan) through and look what that's done - that's fantastic for Mat and he is having such a good career. Having been pushed through has created something really special. I'm very happy for him but it sort of left me behind a little bit, which is fine. I was just grateful to have any sort of career. That was the reason why I went overseas - to play for Australia and there was plenty of times I was playing and being left out but I was never once, "poor me". It was never because I was out of favour, I just think Mat was doing well and other players got picked but that's happened through everyone's career. A manager doesn't like you or, I've had three managers the past year at Stoke and one decided to throw me completely out of the squad! I went from playing and doing really well to not being in the squad but that's just simply someone's opinion. That's just how football goes sometimes, you do need luck, you do need people to like you. As I said, I really enjoyed working with Ange and Ante and I loved the way he played, I really did. The football that he played and the training when I was involved, I absolutely loved because there were some times where he picked me and played me and we'd done well - I really, really, really enjoyed it. It shows how he's been pretty successful in Japan and doing the same sort of thing. Ange is a terrific manager and I really enjoyed it - I wanted to play more for him! But it's a little bit unlucky, really because that's what I wanted to do - I wanted to go over there to be a Socceroo. That was the main thing, not having a club to support, that's what you saw as a kid, was that side of football - the Socceroos, the Harry Kewells, the Mark Schwarzers, the Mark Bosnichs - they were the things you looked up to. I love working with Mark (Schwarzer), he's such a good guy and I can't tell you how big of a role model he's been for me. Look at his club career, it's crazy how many games he played and he's just so down-to-earth. I spoke to him two days ago and he was just saying "good luck out there" and he's really enjoying what he's doing at the minute, so it's great for him. 

LZ: I was looking at photos of your kids and they are all you! You've got a beautiful family. How did becoming a dad change things for you?  

AF: I found it so hard, I won't sugarcoat this! Both of mine were really, really ill when they were babies and we were on our own when we moved to Bournemouth. I remember there were loads of times where he was in the hospital and we had Arsenal away and I was playing for Bournemouth and trying to get sleep. I actually had to leave the Socceroos camp in Thailand early because he went to the high dependency unit over here so it was really painful, it wasn't an enjoyable experience for me. I found it really hard, especially me being me, if you speak to the players that have played with me over the years, I take it very seriously. It sort of had to go from, I was the main concern to someone else being the main concern, which was really hard for me to balance my time because I was like, "nope, we're not doing this, I've got this tomorrow and I've got to put my feet up" or "I need to watch this for the next hour, leave me alone". You just can't do that with kids. It was hard and then I got a few injuries, I had a couple of operations in the mix of that and trying to do it with kids and stuff but they're just the best. As much as you want to concentrate on work all the time - they just change your life for the better. They were a big reason, I wanted to get them out here as well and experience the outdoor life and get them running around. 

LZ: What can we expect from Adam Federici in this upcoming A-League season with Macarthur FC? 

AF: Well, I hope I can showcase myself in a good light. I am at a good age to come back and I feel really good at the minute and that was important in coming back, I wanted to feel good about it.  I enjoy football, I enjoy having the ball, it's really, really fun for me, so I hope to bring something different. I just hope it comes across - I really want to enjoy playing again, which is one of the big things in coming out, I wanted to be what I was a few years ago, which was playing week in, week out, trying to win things. At the same time, enjoying the way that Ante wants to play, which is very similar to the way I want to play and being able to showcase that. I'm just looking forward to getting going because it's been a long three months with lockdown over there. I just want to kick a couple of footballs around, so I'm looking forward to getting in there now and hopefully everything gets sorted and the league can start soon and all the politics stuff's done because there's a lot to sort out. Hopefully, once the games start, it will start to feel like normal and we can get people got into the stadiums and it will be exciting. You want people to be excited about a new team coming in. I think the main thing you can expect from me is a lot of side volleys and a lot of trying to score goals, no [laughs] - just being myself, really. Hopefully, you get the best out of me as well - 35 for a goalkeeper is pretty good. I'll bring a wealth of experience with me, I love talking to people like you and whoever else wants to have a chat so I hope my personality comes across that. Really looking forward to it. 

Wigan Athletic v Stoke City - Sky Bet Championship - DW Stadium
Stoke City goalkeeper Adam Federici
PA Images

LZ: Fedders, it's just great that you're coming back. I think you're going to be a great addition to the league and to football overall in Australia. I know you're still keen to get more out of your playing career but do you think about life after football and what you'd like to do? Is coaching something you're considering?

AF: Absolutely, I'd love to but like you said, I just want to play as long as I can now. When you've got a friend like Mark as well who played into his 40s, I've got to try and match that at least! So that's in the back of my mind but after football, I'd love to do something down here and just make it a little bit easier for people that want a career in football to have an option and not have to trek all the way up to Sydney to get some sort of coaching. I just want to help people. I keep saying to everyone, whoever wants to talk or ask questions, I'm here and I'd love to answer them and help out. Maybe coaching further down the line, I think I'd rather just help people get a bit of an opportunity or a bit more of an opportunity than I did.