SU) George, whilst there are some people in Australia that know all about your football progress, most really do not know too much about your formative years playing the game in Australia. You were born in Budapest - for readers of Studs Up, can you give us a brief rundown on where it all began for you from there and which clubs you played for here?
GK) We immigrated
in 1973 and I spent my junior years in Canberra with a number of local
teams. When I was about 15‡ I was handed a scholarship to the AIS
where I remained for 2‡ years. After leaving I signed for Canberra
City who were in the NSL at that time.
The following year I moved to St George under Frank Arok, but only stayed there for a season. I moved back to Canberra and played with them in the state league for a few seasons. Around 1990 I moved to Belgium.
SU) What made you decide to head for Europe and a professional career?
GK) Basically I was pretty unsure in which direction I wanted to go and I thought I would try to play overseas. I didn’t want to look back in life and say "if only".
SU) Which clubs have you played for so far in Europe and which ones (along with their coaching staff) would you say have helped you develop the most as a player?
GK) So far I have played for Royal Antwerp in Belgium and for Bradford City in the North of England. I am currently with QPR in London. Over the years I’ve had many coaches and I think they have all played a part in my development.
SU) Tell us about the different clubs and their styles, the fans and their expectations and how easily you found it to settle in different countries? Have you learned to speak any other languages whilst in Europe?
Belgium, the style of play is a lot different to where I play now. The
tempo is a lot higher in England with more end to end stuff. In Belgium,
the players are more technically gifted without the British hard work mentality.
I wouldn’t say settling into a new country is easy because you have to
adapt to a number of things like mentality, food, climate, language, etc,
etc. I have managed to get by with my Flemish, but to be fair, I should
be more fluent than I am. The fans’ expectations are all the same wherever
you go - WIN!!
In some cases this is totally unrealistic.
SU) You first came to prominence when a year or so ago you were called you up to join an Australian squad. The reaction ‘down under’ was one of "Who?". How do you think you have progressed since then and do you think moving to QPR was a good move to help your International prospects?
fact, I had been in the Socceroo squad earlier than you mentioned but it
was with Eddie Thomson and those games were against clubs in Europe. Unfortunately,
I was either injured or sick so I never played a great part in those games.
But Thommo selected me in a few other squads, e.g. friendlies against Saudi
Arabia, Chile, Scotland and a tournament in South Africa which unfortunately
Antwerp didn’t allow me to play in.
I think the reaction, "George Who?" is probably a fair one, but although public recognition is nice, that is not one of the reasons I play the game. I’d like to think I have progressed every year, but obviously signing with QPR didn’t effect Terry Venables opinion of me, and to be fair, I don’t think I did justice to myself when he was National Coach. Let’s just say I know I can play a lot better than I did. Unfortunately in football, your form can suffer.
SU) Ned Zelic had a short spell at QPR and couldn’t wait to get away from the place. What was it that he saw that didn’t allow him to give the club and the English game enough time to allow himself to settle in?
GK) I’m afraid you’ll have to ask Ned that. The impression that I got from speaking to the players is that he really didn’t want to be there at all which is a shame because he was the club’s record buy and they probably expected more.
SU) What length contract have you signed with QPR?
GK) I’ve signed for 2‡ years with an option for another 2, but football being a funny game at times, there are no guarantees.
SU) Up to the Crewe game in early February when fellow Australian Jason Kearton was in goal for the visitors, you had just the one first team appearance to your name. How do you feel you have progressed since you’ve been at Loftus Road?
GK) I have definitely let myself down since I’ve been here. My first game was against Bradford and I twisted my ankle and knee in one movement and spent 6 - 7 weeks out. Although I came back, I didn’t feel like the player I was before the injury.
SU) What are you short and long term ambitions within the game at QPR and in Europe generally?
GK) My short term ambition is to get back in the team and show people the real George at QPR. A little longer aim is to see out my contract in one piece - i.e. still be able to walk after football. (Injuries have taken their toll).
SU) Have you won any honours with clubs since you arrived in Europe. If so which ones?
GK) I’ve not won any honours unfortunately because at the time Antwerp won the Belgian Cup and were runners up in the European Cup Winners Cup I was injured.
SU) QPR are one of the football clubs that now hosts a major Rugby Union club with Wasps RUFC playing their home games at Loftus Road. What is the general reaction of the football players to what groundsharing does to the state of the pitch?
GK) Luckily enough the rugby boys don’t really effect the state of the pitch.
SU) Do you keep in touch with what is happening in the Australian Ericsson Cup (NSL) competition?
GK) I sometimes read articles on the Internet, but generally speaking I don’t follow it too closely because most of my generation have seemed to drift out of the game - well friends anyway. I wouldn’t know half the names now.
SU) In general, what do you feel is the level of knowledge, understanding and respect for the game here in Australia in Europe?
think the amount of Aussies playing abroad with "Big Clubs" has definitely
changed people’s opinions. In my early days I encountered the Kangaroo
comments, but generally speaking when the Socceroos are getting good results
against better teams, it’s difficult for people to put you down.
I think the youngsters intending to play overseas can thank players like Johnston, Krncevic, Arnold, Mitchell and Farina etc, etc for opening a lot of doors.
SU) When was the last time you got a chance to return to Australia to visit family and friends and do you return very often?
GK) The last time I was back was last year to see family / business and to play in those games Blue & Gold - which I think didn’t have the same appeal as True Blue v Travellers.
SU) Finally, what are your long term ambitions once your playing days are over? Do you see yourself coaching or getting out of the game altogether?
GK) My long term ambition - I’m not quite sure, but obviously staying in the game would be nice. Generally speaking there are only a few really interesting jobs in Australia and there would be a queue a mile long in front of me. But you never know!
SU) George, thank you
for taking time to talk to Studs Up. We wish you a pleasant off season
lots of success for the 98/9 campaign.
GK) Thank you!!