Melbourne City Football Academy: A breeding ground for Australia’s National Teams

The Melbourne City Football Academy has been a production line of talent for years now, and that continues to be the case, as evidenced by the recent Olyroos Olympics squad announcement.

Of the full 22-man squad, City has had a hand in the development of nine of these individuals.

Current City stars Nathaniel Atkinson and Connor Metcalfe headline a list of Academy graduates that includes the likes of Daniel Arzani, Denis Genreau and Dylan Pierias.

CM
City midfielder Connor Metcalfe trains in Fukushima.

Our number one, Tom Glover, is set to take the captain’s armband, and joining him in Tokyo will be former City players Riley McGree and Lachie Wales.

Academy graduate Ramy Najjarine and former City player Ruon Tongyik were both originally named in the 22 but have now withdrawn which has paved the way for Marco Tilio to get himself a seat on the plane to Tokyo.

Our 2020/21 Rising Star was unlucky not to be selected in the initial squad after his remarkable form in the second half of the season helped propel City to its maiden Premiership and Championship double.

The Olyroos’ campaign at Tokyo 2020 will kick off on Thursday 22 July against Argentina, before fixtures against both Spain and Egypt in the following week. City fans will welcome the prime-time kick-off’s which will allow us all to see our boys live on the big stage.

The notable City flavour to the Olyroos squad further builds on what we’ve seen in recent times with the senior Socceroos squad.

Following a breakout A-League season, Metcalfe made his Socceroos debut in the most recent set of World Cup Qualifiers, while fellow Academy graduate Genreau also made his first appearance for the senior national team.

Back in 2018, Arzani blazed a path for the likes of Metcalfe and Genreau when he became the Club’s first Academy product to play for the Socceroos, making an 84th minute substitute appearance in an international friendly against the Czech Republic.

With three City Academy graduates having gone on to represent Australia at senior international level, plus such a strong City presence in the current Olyroos squad, the conveyor belt of City talent only appears to be speeding up.

Melbourne City FC Director of Football, Michael Petrillo, spoke glowingly about the City Football Academy.

“We are very proud to have produced so many national team players, at all age levels, in our short history.”

“It’s testament to the quality of our curriculum, coaches, human performance and facilities that we can provide to our young talented players to help them become the best footballers they can be.”

Along with the debuts of Metcalfe and Genreau, City fans also saw a number of familiar faces in action during June’s World Cup Qualifiers.

City striker Jamie Maclaren saw plenty of action and scored his sixth international goal in the 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei.

Curtis Good returned to international level for the first time since his maiden cap in 2014, while new singing Mathew Leckie took the armband against Kuwait and scored in both of his appearances.

In addition to our current City boys, McGree (30 appearances and eight goals for the Club) made his Socceroos debut and assisted twice against Chinese Taipei, while Aziz Behich (89 appearances for Heart) played the full 90 in three of the four fixtures in extremely tough conditions.

While the Socceroos have a big final phase of World Cup Qualifiers coming up later this year, the focus is now fully shifted back to the Olyroos who will be representing Australia at the Olympics for the first time since Beijing 2008.

Fresh off the back of taking out the Joe Marston Medal in last Sunday’s Championship win, Atkinson will be one of the most crucial players in Graham Arnold’s line-up. His versatility will be key after his matching-winning performances as a winger throughout the Finals, rather than his usual full-back position.

NA
Fresh off taking out the Joe Marston Medal as the best-afield in the A-League 2021 Grand Final, Nathaniel Atkinson's focus has now shifted to Tokyo 2020.

Glover comes into the Olympics in some strong form after conceding to only a Kosta Barbourses worldie in the Finals, while Metcalfe, Genreau and McGree are expected to play a huge role in Arnold’s midfield plans.

“We particularly would like to wish all of our players whether past or present the very best in the upcoming Olympic campaign,” Petrillo said.

List of past and present Melbourne City Olyroos

Daniel ARZANI*
Nathaniel ATKINSON*
Denis GENREAU*
Thomas GLOVER
Riley MCGREE
Connor METCALFE*
Dylan PIERIAS*
Marco TILIO
Lachlan WALES

Ramy NAJJARINE* and Ruon TONGYIK were both selected in original 22-man squad but have now withdrawn.

*Denotes Academy Graduate

Olyroos Olympic Schedule

Argentina v Australia
Thursday 22 July, 8.30pm kick-off
Sapporo Dome
TV: Seven Network

Australia v Spain
Sunday 25 July, 8.30pm kick-off
Sapporo Dome
TV: Seven Network

Australia v Egypt
Wednesday 28 July, 9.00pm kick-off
Miyagi Stadium
TV: Seven Network