Well-travelled Barker-Daish flying high

An amazing ride so far ... Jake Barker-Daish (Getty Images)

If you want a prime example of what the game can do for a young man who has natural talent and is prepared to work hard, then have a look at the 20-year-old Adelaide United midfielder, Jake Barker-Daish.

If you want a prime example of what the game can do for a young man who has natural talent and is prepared to work hard, then have a look at the 20-year-old Adelaide United midfielder.

And the world tour is about to continue for him, after he plays for Adelaide on Friday night against Sydney FC at Coopers Stadium.

Barker-Daish will go into camp in Melbourne on Sunday with the Australian under-22 squad that is bound for the AFC U22 Championships in Oman from January 12-26, after stopping over in the United Arab Emirates for a training camp in Dubai.

So he is about to add another couple of countries to the list.

The World Game asked Barker-Daish to list the countries he had visited as a result of the football talent that led to him becoming a regular member of junior representative teams, with a dream of one day representing Australia at senior level.

"I've been to Holland, England, Germany, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, the USA, Uzbekistan and . . . Hong Kong (China)," Barker-Daish said.

It is understandable that you might temporarily forget having been to one country when you've been to so many.

Obviously, when you're visiting countries as part of a competing football team you don't have the same freedom to do the 'tourist things' as the holiday traveller, but Barker-Daish said he had done his best to experience each place he had visited.

"I've seen a little bit of the countries," he said. "Some countries we've had longer stays in than others, which gives you more of a chance to get around, but every trip I've been on I've been able to use a bit to experience the country.

"And even if you haven't got much time to do that you're still meeting different people, from other parts of the world, and getting some idea of the different lifestyle."

Asked if he had a favourite among the countries he had visited, Barker-Daish replied: "Probably my favourite place was Colombia, for the under-20 World Cup in 2011.

"It was amazing - a bit of a culture shock, completely different - and the people were just fanatical about their football, which made the tournament a lot more exciting."

Barker-Daish is the son of an English-born mother of Barbados extraction and an Australian-born father.

He has been away from the family home since his mid-teens because of his football career, which goes a long way towards explaining why he seems so mature for a 20-year-old.

"I was 15 when I moved to the Institute of Sport in Canberra," Barker-Daish said.

"Then I went to the Gold Coast club and I've spent the last two years with Adelaide.

"I haven't had a Christmas in my home-town of Melbourne for a long time, but my parents came over from Melbourne to Adelaide for Christmas.

"I'm an only child, and mum and dad come to the city I'm in every year for Christmas. It's great that they do that for me.

"I had to grow up quick, leaving home at such a young age, and a lot of people, when I tell them my age, are shocked. They think I'm older.

"Maybe I do seem a bit older. I know I feel like I'm on a similar wavelength to older players."

Barker-Daish said his football career had been an "amazing" ride so far.

"I'm thrilled, definitely," he said. "Growing up, I probably didn't expect all of that travelling would be a part of football, but as I got older and started getting into national teams I found out it was amazing what doors it opened.

"The countries you can see and the experiences you can have - it's inrcedible.

"I've enjoyed every place I've been to, and I'm hoping that's just the start of it. I've got to keep working hard, but I'm still very young.

"Every opportunity you get to play for your country and go overseas - it's definitely a privilege.

"I had to leave all my friends in Melbourne when I went to the institute, but because of what I've been able to do in football and what the game has done for me I wouldn't have my life any other way."

Barker-Daish has ambitions to play club football overseas, when the time is right.

"Definitely, I'd like to experience playing in European football," he said.

"But I'm still focused on what I have to do in the A-League, and apart from that I think every young footballer's dream is to play for the Socceroos as well."

Barker-Daish said Adelaide's new coach this season, Josep Gombau, was the type of coach he needed because he was literally forcing him to become a better player.

"Josep has pushed me to get better in areas I maybe thought I was already pretty good in, and strengthened me in my weak areas," he said.

"He's very honest and up-front, and you always know where you stand with him. He makes everyone work as hard as they can and he's always keeping players on their toes to make sure they're performing, which everyone really enjoys.

"He's definitely made me a better all-round player."

Barker-Daish came desperately close to scoring in last weekend's 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets, when the ball from his long-range shot was tipped on to an upright by goalkeeper Mark Birighitti and then proceeded to hit the crossbar and the other upright before staying out.

He has been coming off the bench for Adelaide recently, but is tipped to start in place of the injured Marcelo Carrusca against Sydney FC.

Source SBS