It’s not often one gets a call up to start in a game to cover a teammate who is unwell.
It’s also not often that teammate gets injured in the warm-up and you get a last-minute call up to replace them in a position you have never played before in your career.
This happened to Anthony Lesiotis last Friday night against Perth Glory.
The 19-year-old was due to take his place on the bench in Leigh Broxham’s 300th game, before Marco Kurz was met with not one, but two late withdrawals in Storm Roux and Brandon Lauton.
These two omissions, when added to the already injured and unavailable Thomas Deng, left Kurz with very few options in defence.
The Head Coach then made an unexpected, but brilliant call on Lesiotis to take place in the starting line-up at right back.
All of this just moments before kick-off.
“Originally, I was just preparing for the bench spot before the game, but then it just hit me five minutes before the game that I was starting,” said Lesiotis.
“I didn’t really know what to think. I was nervous, and more so than normal because I was playing in a position that I’d never played in before.
“But obviously I just wanted to take that opportunity and do as best as I could.”
It was a performance that contributed to a crucial win for Melbourne Victory and also won the praise of captain Ola Toivonen during his post-match interview with Fox Sports.
Lesiotis said it was the support of his fellow teammates and trying to echo Roux’s playing style that helped him most on the night.
“All my teammates were out there helping me on the pitch, but I also just honestly tried to think of how Storm plays,” said Lesiotis.
“I was trying to just copy him and learn off what I’ve seen from him all season.
“[The feedback from the coach] was positive. He said I did well which was great, and he said to just keep working hard and performing well.
“It was just fantastic to get the win – especially given we hadn’t had the best of runs recently and to do it in Broxy’s 300th game too.
“It was good to reward him for all his time with the club.”
Would Lesiotis look to play at right back again?
“If the team needs me at right back, I’ll play right back. If the team needs me in the middle, I’ll play in the middle!”
It’s this positive attitude of the younger members in the squad, led by the leadership group, that keeps the team motivated to improve and work its way back up the Hyundai A-League table.
The season is certainly not lost, and with a close competition meaning consistent wins could see a rapid rise up the table, the team is staying positive and are out to get one back on new rivals Western United this Sunday at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.
“We focus on ourselves primarily, but we do know how close it is and we do want to keep pushing further up the table because it’s crucial to give ourselves the best chance later in the year,” said Lesiotis.
“Of course, we don’t want to lose [to Western United again].
“We need a win, a big win, and it will definitely boost our confidence going into the middle of the season where we can keep pushing into the top six and maybe higher before finals.”
Melbourne Victory is on the road for Round 9 of the Hyundai A-League season, taking on Western United at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday, December 8 from 4:00pm.