Joyce and De Laet rekindle long relationship
City Head Coach Warren Joyce and Belgian defender Ritchie De Laet have a long history where the two have crossed paths in Belgium, the UK and now once again in Melbourne.
Joyce reminisced about seeing sixteen-year-old Ritchie riding his bike to training in Antwerp before playing for Manchester United and winning the Premier League with Leicester City. Now reunited both are excited to rekindle their relationship in the opposite corner of the globe ahead of the 2018/19 A-League season.
Joyce felt Ritchie’s versatility on the pitch would be important to City this season and was part of what persuaded him to give the former Belgian international the call as he made the final touches to his squad for the upcoming season.
“We needed cover in certain positions and Ritchie provides that in a variety of roles,” Joyce said
“He’s played centre half in the Premier League and he’s played right back, he’s played left back, he can play midfield, he can play wide…he’s scored a hat trick in a vital game, he played up front. So, I know what he can give us.”
Joyce has followed De Laet’s development over his career, remising on the time he first thought the Aston Villa loanee could play at Manchester United.
“I always thought he could play for Man United’s first team and it turned out to be true,” he said.
“He came, grabbed the opportunity to play at Man United with both hands, played in the first team and obviously ends up winning the league at Leicester as well.
“You can give people opportunities but they’ve got to grasp it and make the most of it themselves and be prepared to work hard every single day to improve and get better. And really, the same challenge has been thrown to him here.”
De Laet already understands what Joyce expects from him on the pitch and is working to put himself in Joyce’s equations as soon as possible.
“All that he really wanted from you was to give a hundred per cent on the training pitch everyday,” De Laet said.
“I just want to play football again and enjoying it and obviously I know what [Joyce] expects from his players”
“I’m delighted to be here and hopefully start performing on that pitch soon.”
City take on Western Sydney in the FFA Cup Quarter Final on Wednesday 19 September. Tickets via Ticketek.