HE was representing Australia before most of his Monaro Panthers teammates were even born and last played top-flight football nearly a decade ago.
But this weekend’s unexpected return to the ACT Premier League holds no fears for veteran shot stopper Anthony Giannasca.
For a full preview of the Monaro Panthers upcoming 2013 campaign, see: http://www.queanbeyanage.com.au/story/1352948/gallery-panthers-build-toward-success/?cs=12
The 43-year-old will pull on the gloves for the Monaro Panthers in their season opener against Canberra Olympic at Riverside Oval on Sunday.
It’s something of a shock comeback for the former National Soccer League star and comes as Monaro’s first-choice keeper James Bradbury sits out a one-match suspension carried over from last season.
With Bradbury on the sidelines and the Panthers boasting a largely inexperienced roster, the club put out the call to Giannasca after he turned out for the club in the lower tier State League 6 competition last season.
“I think Njegosh was a bit concerned about a lack of experience coming up against one of the more fancied sides in the competition this weekend,” Giannasca said of his surprise call up.
“What I can bring to the side is going to come mainly from my experience and in hopefully bringing some level of discipline and organisation to the defence.
“Hopefully that way I can prevent [Olympic’s] opportunities with my mind and my mouth rather than my body because quite frankly, the reflexes do slow down over time.”
Giannasca boasts a decorated playing career, having previously represented Australia at the under-20s level before going on to turn out for West Adelaide and the Canberra Cosmos in the NSL.
He also shares a long history with Panthers coach and club technical director Njegosh Popovich, with the two having played together as juniors coming through the ranks back in the 1980s.
The two also still suit up alongside each other in the over-35s competition but even so, Giannasca said Popovich’s request to step back into Premier League limelight had come completely out of the blue.
“I appreciate the thought and I’m more than happy to help out where I can, I just hope expectations aren’t too high,” he said.
“I haven’t played at this level in nearly 10 years but in saying that I’ve still been playing in the lower grades and I keep myself fit.”
“I have no fear in the challenge. I’ve got full confidence I can contribute in some manner, irrespective of how the result turns out on the day.”
But Giannasca added that regardless of how things turn out on Sunday, it was highly unlikely he’ll be dusting off the gloves again this season.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about playing [Premier League] again but I have no aspirations for this to be anything other than a one-off,” he said.
“Mentally, I feel like I can do the job as I did when I was 20 years old. But with the physical nature of the position being quite explosive, I don’t feel like I’d be able to train regularly enough to maintain the level of fitness required.”
ACT Premier League, round 1
Who: Monaro Panthers v Canberra Olympic
Where: Riverside Stadium
When: Sunday, 3pm