The early stages of my career were filled with lots of valuable lessons.
It was funny how I started, it was through Carlo Villani, who is pretty well-known in the soccer world of Albury-Wodonga.
He had his son playing for Morwell Falcons and out of the blue I got a call from Carlo to come down and trial.
But it wasn’t the usual trial.
We had Frank Arok as a coach who had coached the Australian team and coached some very good teams in Melbourne in the NSL.
I didn’t know too much about him, but I knew he was a very good coach that was a little bit left of centre with his thoughts on football.
But it’s those characters you try to draw upon and I’ve been pretty blessed that every coach I’ve had has moulded me into the footballer I am.
My time at Falcons was amazing because my first test was on the gravel car park outside Morwell Falcons’ stadium.
I didn’t know what to think of it all when 50 metres inside we had a perfectly fine soccer pitch and he (Arok) had us out on the gravel.
He was almost testing who wanted it more than the next player because they were willing to do anything to get that contract.
After the trial, I had cuts on my legs, but it was great because he was someone that gave me my first opportunity.
Frank made me a better player and showed a lot of faith in me, so I had a great time in Gippsland.
I knew that if I wanted to progress and get to a higher level, I had to go into more of a professional environment.
I was fortunate enough to play with Eddie Krncevic at Morwell Falcons and he wanted me to come to Carlton, pretty much straight away when he got offered the coaching job.
I was led to believe I was signing a one-year contract, but it was a two-year deal and it hampered me from moving straight away.
I was very grateful he gave me the chance to work in a very professional environment with some very good players.
Stuart Munro came in and was another guy I learnt so much off as he had played at the highest level in Scotland with Rangers when they had all their success.
I took a lot from the guys that had a lot of success.
Carlton later dissolved, but it taught me about character and resilience because some of those teams I was with, especially Carlton, you didn’t know when you were going to get your next wage.
You’re trying to be a full professional and relying on nothing else but your wage and it was hard times.
We hadn’t been paid for months, things were promised, but they weren’t delivered, but it taught me to be stronger and wiser and to not be too quick to jump into certain things.
From there, I went to Marconi, which was one of the biggest clubs in Australia at the time.
It was a privilege for me to be going to play there.
I was just starting to break into the Australian team when I went onto Europe.
- Read what’s to come during Archie Thompson’s reflection on his professional career next week on bordermail.com.au