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The Rock-itt : May 2011
was great and the stadium was packed. I sat went to his place where I stayed the first night. Lucas drove me to the Academy the next morning and I stayed there for the rest of my time in Istanbul. One night l went out for dinner and l was wearing a Gala top. The restaurant owner free... that was pretty funny! They really revere their footballers in Istanbul. I also had a few minor skirmishers with the run by myself in the evening. I was stopped by the Academy security guards as they guarded me until they found an interpreter and only then did they let me go. A sim ilar thing happened at the airport when I was leaving. I had both my Australian and my European passports with me and when I accidentally produced both the officials got but after an interpreter was found it turned sixteen year old was doing travelling by him- self simply to play football. They eventually let me go through but I almost missed my plane After you were injured, how did your plans change? After l got injured in Turkey l was very disap- pointed because l was going to train with West Ham for a week and another week at up to Manchester where l got another Doc the look at my hand. He said it was no good so l was about to come home early and then the agent found out that Burnley needed a keeper for a trial match the next week. l chilled in a hotel for about a week to rest my hand then just strapped it up and played. We won 3- though they scored twice. My hand was killing me by the end of the match but at least I have now played a real match in the UK. What was it like playing for and training with Burnley? Playing for Burnley was a great experience but training was a bit hard because my hand me som e great feedback and at one stage it looked like I could be staying with them for a while longer but then that fell through at the last minute. What else did you do in the UK? InthetwoweekslwasintheUKwhileI spent a fair bit of the time staying with a leading a touring Australian school football team around. l went to Glasgow with Mark and his boys to watch Scotland play Spain... great gam e... great venue and atmos- phere... totally different from here! People are just so passionate about their football there and they turn out in numbers... there privilege of exploring Old Trafford and vari- ous other football venues in Liverpool and Manchester. I got lost a few times but that happens when you are exploring. What have you been doing since your re- turn? Since l got back from the UK l was training with Sydney FC until Christmas. This was pretty awesome and I learned a lot from the SFC keeper coach, John Filan and the other keepers there. The players were very wel- coming and supportive, as was the coaching and managerial staff. The training was hard and I absolutely loved it. I am now concen- trating on playing with Manly United FC and hopefully winning another premiership for 2011. Has anything changed for you as a result of the trip? Lots of things have changed. l now know contract and how hard l have to work to make that happen. I now know (at least to some degree) what goes on in a professional team environment and how focused these players are in terms of their task. I am very thankful to Lucas and all the other people who were involved for this experience and perhaps the most important change is that I am now total- ly committed to a pro football future. I thought I was before.... I can see it much more clearly now. no idea because one thing l did learn about football from the trip is that anything can hap- pen and I just have to run with what does. keep working hard without letting anything or anyone stop you . Finally Tonu, what advice would you give younger players as a result of your experi- ence? Never give up and if you are willing to put the hard yards into it, anything can hap- pen! Tonu Liiband on the training ground at Galatasaray A true friend to Manly United, Lucas Neill in the vibrant colours of Galatasaray Lucas Neill with former Award winner, Newcastle Jets Chris Payne.