Leckie believes he belongs at the top level

Australia star Mathew Leckie made the candid admission he wasn’t ready for the German Bundesliga the first time around, but that the past season has convinced him beyond doubt he belongs there now.

Mathew Leckie

Source: AAP

Leckie left A-League club Adelaide United as a 20-year-old to join Bundesliga club Borussia Monchengladbach before the start of the 2011-2012 season.

He played nine games for their senior team and also spent time in the reserves before being loaned to FSV Frankfurt in 2. Bundesliga.

The attacker got a lot more games and scored a lot more goals in his two seasons there, playing mostly in the club’s firsts team plus a bit of time in the reserves.

His switch to FC Ingolstadt 04 before the start of the 2014-2015 season was the beginning of his move back to the top flight of German football.

He was a regular as they won promotion to the Bundesliga and remained a regular once they got there, playing 32 games last season.

Leckie, in Sydney with the Socceroos for the game against Greece at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night, said he was happy with his progress back at the top level.

FC Ingolstadt 04 finished 11th in the 18-team competition to comfortably retain their Bundesliga status.

“It was a solid season for me,” Leckie said. “I was part of the Bundesliga a few years back with Monchengladbach and didn’t get much game-time and I think maybe I wasn’t ready for it.

“But I had a few solid seasons in the second Bundesliga to get myself ready to go back up and I was fortunate enough to do that with my current team.

“We’ve fitted in pretty well and I feel comfortable in the league now. I feel I’m at that level and I was pretty happy with my season.”

Leckie is only 25 years old, but with 29 appearances for Australia behind him now he is among the most experienced players in the squad for the two-game series against Greece. The second game will be played in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The two members of the squad who are still yet to be capped – young defenders Alex Gersbach and Jason Geria – are each set to make their international debuts at some stage across this series.

Asked what he saw in the faces of Gersbach, 19, and Geria, 23, during the training camp, Leckie replied: “They’re young, determined guys with a lot of motivation to make their mark. They haven’t been able to do that yet, but I’m sure they’ll get the opportunity over the next week.

“You can tell how keen they are to play. I remember my first few games for the national team - when you get the chance you’ve got to take it and I’m sure they’ll be looking at it the same way.

“So I’ve got no doubt they’re ready. They’ve each been in a couple of camps now, so they know how we play and they’ve been very promising in training. They’re definitely up to playing at this level and I’m pretty excited to see how they go.”

Leckie said the two games were vital to the cause of the Socceroos getting ready for important World Cup qualifying matches later this year.

”We want to keep getting better,” he said. “We’ve already done that over the past couple of years and we want to continue that. Greece are a strong side. The missed out on the European Championships, but we still know they’ve got a lot of good players and it should be a good test.

“We’ve got two games, so I’m not sure what the boss is going to do, whether he’ll play a mixture of players or if he’ll want to put out his strongest team for at least one of the games. I guess it’s a good chance to have a look at some players who haven’t played for the national team yet.”

Leckie said it was reasonable for Australia to aim at winning both games.

“Yeah, I don’t see why not,” he said. “We’ve proved we’re as good as many European nations and I think we played very well against England last weekend. We were very unlucky to lose the game, it could have gone either way.

“We’ve done so well on home soil and been successful a lot here in the last couple of years, so I personally think we are the favourites and we’ll go out there expecting to win.”

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4 min read
Published 3 June 2016 at 11:33am
By Greg Prichard