It takes a player of a certain calibre and demeanour to become the darling of the home end, but in Dutch striker Gerald Sibon, Melbourne Heart FC’s active supporters had their man.
It takes a player of a certain calibre and demeanour to become the darling of the home end, but in Dutch striker Gerald Sibon, Melbourne Heart FC-s active supporters had their man.
Standing at nearly two metres tall, Sibon-s penchant for the impossible and nonchalant persona saw him fast evolve in the club-s first cult hero, delighting the crowds which began to chant his name.
Netting seven goals and six assists during his only campaign in Red and White, Sibon emerged as one of the Club-s leading performers, helping to guide the side through its debut Hyundai A-League campaign.
While Sibon-s time at the Club was only brief, the 37-year-old retains fond memories of his time down under, remaining in contact with a number of his former team mates, while keeping tabs on his side-s progress online.
“I-m following the team through Twitter and checking out the goals each week on YouTube,” he said.
“It was actually incredible to have a club start out of nothing then have such passionate supporters after such a short period of time. It-s amazing, they travel home and away, and it was great to have them cheering us on.”
Emerging as a leader amongst the playing group last season, Sibon played a major role in establishing a culture at Heart, acting as a mentor to a number of younger members of the squad.
With Head Coach John van ‘t Schip placing a significant emphasis on promoting youth this season, Sibon is confident the future is bright for the Red and White, highlighting striker Eli Babalj as a player to watch.
“I think there-s a lot of potential at Melbourne Heart looking at the youngsters I played with last year in Eli Babalj, Aziz Behich, Adrian Zahra and Nick Kalmar. Those kids did really well last year and can only get better,” he said.
“I think if Eli Babalj works hard, trains hard and listens to the people around him, I think he will get there (and play in Europe).
“He has a good posture, he has good pace, he has a good touch, I mean he-s got almost the whole package, but of course he has to work very hard to get there.”
While Sibon recently made headlines with a stellar strike for current side Heerenveen in the Dutch Eredivisie, the former Olympian believes his career is fast approaching its final stanza, refusing to look beyond this season.
Though the mind is willing, Sibon remains unsure if the body will be able to withstand the rigours of another season in Holland-s top flight, as a career which has taken him to England-s Premier League and the UEFA Champions League reaches a close.
“It-s year to year now,” he said.
“I-m not playing as many matches as I did last season. It was very tough but I thought I could handle it, but we-ll see in April or May how I feel.
“If the body feels good I-ll keep on playing, and if not, you need to quit one day and I think 38 which I-ll be at that time is not a bad age to stop playing professional football.”