Not that long ago, any article you read about Australian footballers overseas had some mention of a young centre back making huge leaps forward in Germany.
George Timotheou was excelling for FC Schalke 04’s second team in the Oberliga Westfalen – Germany’s fifth tier.
Schalke is a proud 116-year-old club located in Gelsenkirchen. They have won the German championship seven times and their most recent silverware was a cup double in 2011.
So impressed were Die Königsblauen with their bargain Australian acquisition, the left-footer soon started training with the senior team and eventually made his Bundesliga debut on 18 May 2019 – the final round of the season – becoming only the 19th Australian to play in Germany’s highest tier.
The Canberra native played a full 90 minutes against VfB Stuttgart, which boasted German legend Mario Gomez as its starting striker.
Gomez was replaced by Argentinian Nicolás González (who has scored twice from four appearances in the Bundesliga this season) but neither he nor Gomez could get past Timotheou and his defensive counterparts that day.
The young Australian seemed to have the world at his feet.
The 62,000 seat capacity Veltins-Arena, Schalke’s home, must have felt like a distant dream for Timotheou when he rolled out for Adelaide United against Adelaide Blue Eagles last Wednesday at the Marden Sports Complex; but a lot has happened for the now 23-year-old.
He left Germany for Belgium and signed with S.V. Zulte Waregem in search of more regular first team football.
Things didn’t play out as well as he planned, and in January this year, Timotheou found himself loaned out to Western United in the A-League.
This wouldn’t be his first time in Australia’s top tier.
He was part of the 2016-17 Sydney FC team but never made a senior appearance.
Though he did score in the National Youth League Grand Final that season – a 3-2 loss to Central Coast Mariners – but was nevertheless released.
There was some irony therefore that Timotheou was expected to make his A-League debut against in Gosford.
But instead, he found himself facing a much grimmer prospect than making his Australian professional bow in front of inflatable sauce bottles.
As he explained in this interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Timotheou learnt that he needed heart surgery to fix his bicuspid aortic valve.
Retirement, much like the case of Chris ‘Kiki’ Naumoff, was a real possibility but worst of all, was the fact that he could have died if he had continued playing without surgery.
He had a cow valve surgically implanted and despite some post-operation complications, he has recovered.
InDaily understands that the Adelaide’s signing of Timotheou is imminent – possible as soon as today.
United will give him a chance to re-establish himself as one of Australia’s most promising centre-backs.
A cursory glance at Adelaide’s team list from the last few seasons will show you the Reds have not had three out-and-out central defenders since Taylor Regan departed in January 2018.
They’ve often relied on Michael Marrone, who is a natural right-back, to shift centrally when needed.
Signing Timotheou is a shrewd piece of business by the Reds and he will provide solid competition for Jordan Elsey and Michael Jakobsen. He will most definitely give Carl Veart a real selection dilemma.
Neither Jakobsen nor Elsey have performed poorly over the last few season but it will be hard to ignore Timotheou’s presence.
Adelaide is once again showing its overall mantra to the rest of the competition – giving young talented Aussies a chance to excel.
And, most importantly, this addition will put the Reds in the conversation for a title.
Adelaide United 20/21 Squad
Al Hassan Toure, Ben Halloran, Dakota Ochsenham, Dom Constanzo, Ethan Cox*, James Troisi, Joe Caletti*, Joe Gauci*, Kusini Yengi, Louis D’Arrigo, Michael Jakobsen, Michael Marrone, Mohamed Toure*, Nathan Konstandopoulos, Noah Smith*, Pacifique Niyongabire, Ryan Kitto, Ryan Strain, Stefan Mauk, Yaya Dukuly*.
Senior contracts: 15
*Scholarship contracts: 6
And another thing…
Michael Matricciani and Adelaide City have parted ways.
Paul Pezos, who recently left his role as the head coach of Adelaide United’s youth team, looks odds on to take the reins at Oakden.
Given Matricciani made his name coaching the Football SA NTC side, is there a chance he may take charge of the Reds NPL side?
Local News Matters
Media diversity is under threat in Australia – nowhere more so than in South Australia. The state needs more than one voice to guide it forward and you can help with a donation of any size to InDaily. Your contribution goes directly to helping our journalists uncover the facts. Please click below to donate to InDaily.