The Cost of Loyalty

Josh Risdon is fast becoming the player that epitomises Perth Glory, just as former captain Gareth Naven did. He is the local boy who came good. The player that many aspiring footballers can relate to because they can identify with his path to the top.

Risdon deserves all of the accolades that have come his way of late. He made a brave decision in his teenage years, aged 14 to move to Perth, away from his family in Bunbury two hours away, as he felt this was the best chance for him to achieve his dream of a career in professional football. He joined Perth’s football factory ECU Joondalup where, as they have done with a number of Perth Glory’s current local first team players, Joondalup polished this rough diamond into a confident steady young player.

He then moved to the NTC program and from there into the Perth Glory youth team, where he was coached by none other than Gareth Naven. Ian Ferguson was the man who spotted his talent, gave him a first team contract and gave him his debut aged 18 against North Queensland Fury.

Risdon has, unlike some who have achieved their dream of a professional contract, continued to work at his game and has become more versatile, playing on the left or the right, and worked at facets of his game such as his crossing, this weekend’s game against the Mariners being evidence of that. He has not rested on his laurels and is the epitome of a professional, still with the drive and desire to achieve.

His second Socceroos call up is evidence of the progress that he has made. Yet it has not all been plain sailing a knee injury threatened his place in the first team during Alistair Edwards time as coach. Matthew Davies filled in and did a great job and Risdon’s form took a while to return, and probably this was when he showed his true professionalism.

There has only been one real blip away from the pitch when he was arrested in Adelaide with striker Andy Keogh in February 2015. Both players were fined the maximum allowed by the club. Yet even in this incident Risdon managed to come out with a positive element. He was charged for not moving on when Police had asked him to. The reason being he was trying to stand by a team mate.

In the January transfer window there was a lot of talk that Risdon would be leaving the club and heading to Europe to continue the journey on the dream he visualised as a young boy in Bunbury. In fact Perth Glory were pushing hard to find a club for him at this time. There were two reasons for this, the first a transfer would bring the club a much needed injection of cash, and secondly with Risdon’s contract expiring at the end of the season, if they did not obtain a transfer, he could leave the club for free.

At the end of last week it was announced that Risdon had signed a new one year deal with Perth Glory. Fans were obviously happy that their favourite son had signed for another season. The club was happy because if a move to Europe is as imminent as has been rumoured they have now secured a transfer fee.

Yet is this new contract a good one for the player himself? Some have said that Risdon was advised by his agent to secure himself a contract for next year before looking overseas. The belief being that interested clubs in Europe may still come in and sign him for next year, meaning he will not actually play for the Glory next season. Others have said that Risdon signed because he felt a loyalty to the club that gave him his break. It is certainly very unlikely that had he not signed he would have had a number of offers to consider.

Whatever the reason for him signing a new one-year deal, it is a risky one. Many European clubs will not sign players unproven at that level once they are past the age of 23. The reason given is that they have picked up bad habits by then that cannot be coached out of them; although every individual is different. Risdon will be 24 in July.

There is no doubt that those European clubs that were interested in signing the young defender would have been more than happy to sign him on a free transfer, will they now pay a transfer fee? How much will Perth Glory ask and will that be the stumbling block in a deserved move overseas?

If the club really wanted a man who is fast becoming a player synonymous with the club he plays for, why did they only sign him to a one year deal? This may well have been more his agent’s doing, as certainly if he was on a longer contract then his price would have risen even higher come a move overseas.

It is going to be interesting to see how the next six months to a year play out for this talented defender. He certainly deserves a move overseas, to see just how far his determination and dedication can take him. There is no doubt that playing regularly in Europe, even if not in a top division he would more than likely cement his place in Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos squad. With a World Cup two years away Risdon would put himself in the perfect position to book a place on the plane to Russia, should Australia qualify.

There are many who would be sad to see him leave, and understandably so, but this young man deserves the opportunity, and one feels as he has shown so far, he will grab it with both hands. Let us all hope that this new contract does not put those interested clubs off and bring a dream opportunity to an end.

Having watched his rise to the top most would not begrudge him trying to achieve all he can in the game, and will hopefully be proud of the way he has represented Perth Glory. His name will certainly live long in the club’s memory and all by the age 23 years old. A fantastic achievement in itself.

The Cost of Loyalty
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