Melbourne Heart FC teenage full-back Jeremy Walker remains grounded - and focussed on the Red and White’s final three matches - despite landing a “dream” Hyundai A-League contract.
Melbourne Heart FC teenage full-back Jeremy Walker remains grounded - and focussed on the Red and White-s final three matches - despite landing a “dream” Hyundai A-League contract.
The humble 19-year-old defender, who grew up in the town of Ulverstone in the North-West of Tasmania before moving to Melbourne to chase a career in Australia-s top flight, has set his sights on tomorrow-s showdown with A-league table-toppers Western Sydney Wanderers after signing a one-year contract with the Heart.
“It-s a dream come true, but I guess nothing really changes now; I need to perform each week until the end of the season and hopefully we get into finals and keep playing well then,” Walker said.
Walker praised the Tasmanian system, where he progressed through the Football Federation Tasmania-administered National Training Centre program and hoped it had provided a clear pathway to the A-League for aspiring players from the Apple Isle.
“I-ve got a few messages from people at home, just support and to keep going well. It-s good, everyone in Tassie is happy,” Walker said.
“The system is really good in Tassie… as soon as one person goes, a few more might [break through],” Walker said.
While Walker has been tasked with filling the right-back position vacated by Michael Marrone, he has thrived on the competitive nature of senior football.
“It-s good, it-s enjoyable; I like competing and I like a challenge so that-s been the most beneficial [aspect] for me; just the challenge of playing each week and getting a result each week,” Walker said.
Walker said he had idolised Head Coach John Aloisi as a young player and the former Socceroo striker had been the ultimate mentor in guiding him through the youth team to senior ranks.
“Because he watched me play and obviously coached me, it made it easier to [make the transition] because we played the same [style of football] in the youth team as the first team so it was pretty similar adapting to the first team football,” Walker said.
Aloisi said Walker deserved his contract.
“He-s been doing well; I was lucky enough to work with Jeremy last year with the youth team,” Aloisi said.
“It-s exciting for the people of Tasmania, it-s exciting for Jeremy, but he deserves it.
“He was originally a right winger, but we converted him to a right full-back last season in the youth team and he keeps on improving and keeps on getting better.
“It-s something that we-ve been doing for the last three seasons; trying to bring through young players - not just for the sake of it - but because we believe they can benefit our team and our squad and Jeremy has proven that.
“Since he has come into the squad he has done really well and he deserves the contract.”