Q and A with Massimo Murdocca

From the early days with Miron Bleiberg to the Frank Farina regime and the new Ange Postecoglou era, Brisbane Roar midfielder Massimo Murdocca has seen it all as the only remaining foundation player left at the club.

From the early days with Miron Bleiberg to the Frank Farina regime and the new Ange Postecoglou era, Brisbane Roar midfielder Massimo Murdocca has seen it all as the only remaining foundation player left at the club.

Here, he talks about which player he thinks has had the biggest influence on the club, how Ange Postecoglou has transformed his football career and how he almost chose AFL over football.

Brisbaneroar.com.au caught up with Murdocca after training on Wednesday morning to ask your chosen questions from Facebook and Twitter.

1. Who do you consider being the most influential person on your entire football career and why?

I-d have to say my dad. From the beginning of my life, I was introduced to football by him and when I was six or seven years old he was the one driving me everywhere. I probably didn-t really want to be a footballer, I liked my AFL and I wanted to play for Carlton. At that age, he wanted me to be a footballer and that was it. I guess he-s the biggest reason why I-m here today - his work ethic to make sure I-d done everything right and always believed that football was a better sport than the other codes. I do agree with him now. What he did for me and my other brothers, I-ll definitely try and do that with my kids because he gave me something to live for and football is a massive part of my life now. What was special about my dad was he had that in his heart to say no, he made me disciplined and told me I was going to be a footballer. These days, I think more and more you let your kids do what they want and I think that discipline has disappeared a bit so I appreciate my dad doing that.

2. Thinking back to the early days… What was it about Brisbane and Miron Bleiberg that made you want to sign for the Roar?

When I had my chat to Miron back then, he saw me as an important inclusion into the inaugural squad and that was very appealing to me. I did have a bit of interest from Melbourne Victory back then, it was 50-50 at that time and I wasn-t prepared to sit around. Back then, the NSL finished and then there was a year gap and I was a bit lost at that time. I just wanted to secure something very quickly and the Roar and Miron were really the only club that said we want you now, we want you to be part of this club and we see you as a young player who can be here for a long time. That really appealed to me and that was the reason I came to the club. I didn-t know Miron before that and Miron didn-t know me so that made it really unique. He actually picked me up from the airport back then which was very exciting for me. To be honest, as soon as I saw him I thought, ‘what an attractive coach-. Then when I heard his voice, I thought it didn-t really match his looks. I was a bit skeptical about him but he was someone that I definitely respected back then and still respect today.

3. Being here since day one, what has been your favourite game except the Grand Final?

I guess my favourite game was back in season one when we went to Melbourne for the first time and we won 1-0. I had a cracking game myself, out of all the seven years - that was probably the best performance I-ve produced for the Roar. I-ll never forget that game, beating the Victory after I had a chance to sign for them and they weren-t overly keen on offering me something when the Roar did. That was really the highlight for me back then and it-s still my favourite game. Once that game passed, I didn-t care about that fixture anymore and just treated them like any other team but I must admit, the first time I played them, I felt I had to prove something. After that, I just treated them like any other team.

4. Who has been the best player bought in for the Roar since the beginning of season one, in your opinion?

It would be hard to name the best player. I can say a top three, in no particular order - Craig Moore, Charlie Miller and probably Thomas Broich. I leave Danny Tiatto out because he-s a mate of mine, I won-t chuck him in there but I think those four are definitely players that have changed this club around, especially Craig Moore. He was a great captain and I thought Matty learned a lot from him. Matty became such a great captain himself because he learned from such a great leader and Craig Moore should get all the credit he deserves. He really changed the club at a time we weren-t really successful and made us one of the top three teams in the league so Craig Moore should get credit for that.

5. What is the 'magic' that makes Roar the superb team that it is at the moment - how does that kind of teamwork develop?

I think the biggest thing about that is that we-ve all bought into the same thing. It-s not like we have separate groups that believe in different things, we all believe that Ange is doing the right thing and we believe that we have to play on the ground and we have to work hard. As soon as one player doesn-t believe in that, that-s when we are like every other team in the league. I think that-s been the biggest difference for us. A lot of people have spoken about the characters that Ange has brought into the club and I totally agree with that. He-s brought in people that I like to hang out with outside of football. In previous years, I-ve always had a group of friends that I-ve stuck with and that was it but now, these days, I can go and have a coffee or have lunch with any of the players in the team. That-s been a massive change that Ange has made to the club.

6. Melbourne Victory has been a bit of a bogey team for Brisbane Roar. What's the feeling leading into the game this weekend?

I think they-ve been a bogey team because they-re just a great side. They play football like us which is why I think we sort of cancel each other out sometimes. They always seem to win, most times, so we-ll definitely try to change that this time around. We always enjoy playing against the Victory because we want to match ourselves against the best every week and Victory are definitely the best club in the country for sure. Over the seven years, I truly believe that they-ve been the best club and they-re still the benchmark. We-ve definitely tried to follow their footsteps and hopefully we can bypass them someday.

7. You've had some injury setbacks in your career - what motivates you to keep going?

Talking about my injuries is a tough one. Obviously, it was something I had to go through on my own. Injuries are things you can-t just ask for advice for and talk about, you-ve got to go through it on your own and you-ve got to be stronger on your own through it. The broken leg was definitely a tough one for me, I still have little niggles here and there in the ankle which makes it very tough. Last year was my first year back from that injury and it just didn-t feel right. When you don-t feel the same and when you don-t feel like the player that you were with a particular part of your body, it affects you mentally as well. I think that-s what caught me out last year, that I was starting to get these niggling injuries after, wasn-t thinking straight and that all builds up and you really have to become a true professional during those times. I feel like I-ve really progressed from there, I-ve come back stronger this year. I had a full pre-season for the first time in probably three years and I think that-s shown in the field, it-s made a massive difference. I-ve started on the bench this year and I-ve broken into the team and that just comes down to my hard work and my dedication to trying to get my leg right but also working on my game.

8. How much are you looking forward to the AFC Champions League? And what edge do you think you have over other Asian teams?

We-re really looking forward to it because we truly think we-ve got a good chance of it. If we can keep going well in the A-League, there-s no reason why we can-t match it over there with them. We-ll take a lot of confidence out of what Adelaide did a couple of years ago, making the grand final, so not only do we know that it-s possible to go all the way but with people saying that we-re probably the best A-League team that they-ve seen in many years, that also really gives us confidence going over there in March to really give it a fair crack. There-s no doubt that the teams over there are technically very good but I think our physical side and our fitness will be our biggest threats. We-ll definitely try and stay on top of that. We-ve been doing a lot of tough training sessions during the week to try and embody what we-re going to try and do in the Champions League. I think we-ll have a lot of mid-week fixtures and we-re trying to replicate as much of that as possible.

9. Ange Postecoglou has obviously had a big influence on the whole club, but what effect has he had on you personally and on your football form?

I think the biggest thing I can say with Ange is that he-s tried to make me become more attacking. In previous years, I-ve always been that player that has won the ball and given it off but I really think he-s introduced a threatening side to my game, where I can go forward and cause problems. I-ve never had that in previous years. That-s obviously something I am still working on, I-ve still got a lot of work to do on it but Ange has definitely headed me in the right direction and this year is probably the most threatening I-ve been in the attacking third, to be honest. If I can keep improving on that and try to stay in the starting eleven as much as possible, I can really see that progressing into something more special for me. Hopefully I can become a better player for it. I don-t really know where the ‘no look- pass came from, I guess it-s something I-ve tried to use to trick players. In previous years, I-ve had this weird finger that I flick back and forth to tell players where to go and that didn-t seem to work so well so I-ve tried to look the ‘no look- pass now and its seemed to work so far. I might try and keep using it!

10. You have a reputation as a bit of a joker around the club… what-s your best joke?

It comes down to… What do you call a deer with no eyes? No-eye deer.