The OzSoccer Articles

Mum's the word

Diane Purdue is the mother of Nicholas Purdue. She has seen her son grow into a dedicated and successful footballer who is now seeking to make a professional career for himself in Europe. Diane kindly agreed to answer a few questions about what it was all like.

What, if any, is your family's footballing background?
I only came into contact with football when I met my husband (I am divorced and Nicholas' father was a Rugby Union player). I did not know anything about soccer.

What is Nicholas' birthdate?
24.12.78 (Capricorn).

When and how did Nicholas first become interested in football? Was the sport introduced to him or did he 'find' it himself?
Nick first became interested in football when he started school. All his friends signed for our local club team and of course he wanted to be part of this fun. He was also encouraged by his stepfather.

Was his interest encouraged, discouraged or allowed to develop independently? Why?
His interest in football was certainly encouraged by the family as it opened up a world of new friends, exercise and he absolutely loved the game.

Does Nicholas have any siblings?
Nick has two siblings - one sister aged 22 (presently living in New York and doing an acting course) and one brother aged 20 (presently doing a TAFE course).
Do any play football or other sports as well?
Both his brother and sister played football. His brother also plays basketball and his sister played netball.
Was there any competition between them for success and/or attention from the family?
There was no competition amongst themselves as we made sure that there was always one of us at a game or at training for each of them.
How do they feel about Nicholas' success so far?
They both are extremely proud of his achievements as they know how much hard work Nick put in to his career.

When did you first notice that Nicholas' talent was greater than average among his peers? How did that change, if at all, your feelings and hopes for his future?
Nick's stepdad is a soccer coach (Level 2) and whilst he never coached Nick he was always at games and thought that he had a natural talent. At age 11 he was selected to represent Sutherland Shire in Representative Football and from there he went on to Youth League. He was approached by other Youth League Clubs to play for them and also was selected in the Under 13, 14 and 15 N.S.W. State Teams. This selection process was a lengthy one commencing with some 200 kids and final selection consisted of 16. At this stage, all we did was foster his interest in the sport.

What was Nicholas' first representative selection? How did he perform? Did his family attend the game? Did you attend his other games regularly?
Under 11 Representative Team - Sutherland Shire. Played very well and was given the President's Award at the end of the year.

All the family attended his games (as we did with the other two children). We always attended the children's sporting games - be it soccer, basketball or netball.

Was his schooling ever neglected in favour of his football career, was this done against the parents wishes?
I guess we were very fortunate that Nick always did very well at school and seemed to be able to combine his sport with his studies.

In Year 12 when he got a letter to trial for Roda J.C. he decided to leave and this caused great concern for me. He felt that he only had a limited amount of time to make it in football but had his whole life to resume his studies. What could I say!!!

What is Nicholas' preferred playing position, has he played elsewhere in the past? If so why did he change position?
Nick is a defender. He always played striker (highest goal scorer in Youth League in Under 14's) and sometimes midfield but when he was selected in the Joeys, Les Scheinflug had him as a defender and he has remained in this position.

Do you feel that Nicholas' sporting ambitions hindered or aided his social development?
I personally feel that Nick's involvement in sport was a definite plus in his social development. He made lots of friends, experienced travel and different cultures and always had lots of fun wherever he went.

How did Nicholas come to be selected to the Australian Youth Team? Did this development in his career come as a surprise to him, to others? How did he get along with his teammates?
Nick was identified as an Elite athlete at 14 after the N.S.W. State Team played at the National Championships. He was informed that he should attend the N.S.W. Academy at Parklea where he would be 'watched' for inclusion in the Australian U/17 Joeys team. Nick's ambition since the age of 10 was to be included in the Joeys. He worked very hard with his training and skill development. He got along very well with his team mates as most of them were the N.S.W. State Team that had been together for almost three years and were already close friends.

How did the South American tour influence Nicholas?
South America had a huge influence on Nick. It opened his eyes to the world of professional football and it made him even more determined to be a professional footballer.

It also opened his eyes to South American women!!!

At what stage did Nicholas acquire the services of an agent? Did the agent approach him, did you think it was a good idea to get one, did Nicholas?
Nick has had an agent since August, 1996. The agent was recommended by a friend of ours who pointed out that if he was to go overseas, it was best to have an agent to help with all the finer details.

Was the decision for Nicholas to trial overseas an easy one to make and how did the oppertunity arise?
The decision to let Nick go overseas was a relatively easy one as this was what he had been planning to do for a very long time. He had also been in England in January, 1996 and had trials with Bolton Wanderers who were most interested in him but the difficulty with visas (we have no British background and he could not get a British passport) made it virtually impossible for him to pursue this avenue. He then decided it would have to be Europe.

The opportunity arose when Nick wrote to about 10 overseas clubs including a resume, career background and references from his State Coach and Youth League coach. Roda J.C. replied but warned him that the standard was very high and unless he was 'talented' that it would not be worthwhile.

How did this trial affect the family as a whole? Is Nicholas coping well with his time overseas so far? Has he made new friends?
As his Mum, Nick's departure from home left a big hole. I miss him very much - but as my daughter had already left some 12 months before for New York, I was kind of used to the dramas in the departure lounge. Nick has also travelled a lot (we used to live in the Philippines and his Dad is still there so there have been on many overseas trips since he was about six). He also toured Japan playing soccer with the U/15 State Team and went to England and Canada playing indoor soccer for Australia. His stepdad misses watching him play the games.

I now have a lot of food left in the house!!!!

So far he is coping really well with living away from home. He is now speaking Dutch and has made a lot of friends. The other players have been extremely good to him and made him feel very welcome.

Why was Nicholas loaned out to another club, what was Nicholas' reaction?
I cannot comment as this has to do with contractual arrangements between different Federations.

Has he made first team appearances? How well is he playing? Does he have any contact with Soccer Australia officials or coaches?
Nick is three times a week with the First Team at Roda J.C. The rest of the week is spent travelling to Genk (Belgium) and training and playing with the Second Team. He has had friendly games in Germany and Belgium with the First Team for Roda. Nick feels that he is playing well and I guess the fact that they signed him on an 18 month contract and paid Parramatta Eagles xxxxxxx amount of dollars for him indicates that they are pleased with him also. He feels that his football has improved 200% since he has been in Europe.

I don't think he has any contact with Soccer Australia although I am sure that they know he is there.

Did Nicholas ever consider a career in the Australian NSL as an option, was it pursued? Did he play for any NSL youth/reserve sides before leaving Australia?
Nick played in the NSL Youth from the age of 14. First with the N.S.W. Academy of Sport and then with St George U/18. He was then asked to go to Parramatta Eagles but only played three or four games with the Youth Team when he was brought into the First Grade Team playing in every match including the Final (against Adamstown) which they won. He also played in Waratah Cup games up until his departure for the Netherlands.

Nick decided that he really wanted to go overseas at a young age rather than stay here and hopefully make a name for himself in NSL.

What are Nicholas' current ambitions? Does he have any role-models he wishes to emulate?
I guess one of Nick's role models was Craig Johnston. He read and reread his book "Never Walk Alone" from the age of about 12. He also admire greatly Ruud Gullit and has followed his career closely. I guess his current ambition is to make First Grade in Europe as quickly as he can and continue learning and improving.

Does Nicholas have any fall-back plans in the unfortunate event of a career ending injury?
Nick is undertaking correspondence study in Business and Finance with the Securities Institute in Australia. This will give him a degree when he finishes and allow him to be involved with the money market (Stock Exchange, etc.)

He was always keen to do law so I guess that wouldn't be out of the question either.

Is there anything you wish to add?
As Nick's mum I can only say that I am incredibly proud of his achievements because I saw the sacrifices that he chose to make - early nights before a game, training three or four night a week, hours of personal training down at the local oval. I don't know whether he is the most skilful player, but I know that he is determined. His stepdad also feels that he has exactly the right attitude to make a footballer and that his vision and 'football brain' will get him through.

His agent has told me that the report on Nick's performance by Roda J.C. and Genk have been great.

Let me finally say that Nick absolutely loves what he is doing and I think that that is half the battle. He told me that he was training with the First Team at Roda and he realised that he was smiling simply because he couldn't believe that he was there and it had finally happened.

I miss him though.
Thank you Diane.