Spiranovic’s journey comes full circle
Sixteen years after Matthew Spiranovic first turned out for Melbourne Victory as a spikey-haired teenager in a baggy kit, he can’t wait to do it all over again.
The 33-year-old signed for the Victory in July, ending a two-year hiatus from the professional game to reunite with former mentor Tony Popovic.
In doing so, he returned to the club where as a 16-year-old, he first featured in a friendly against Oakleigh Cannons in April 2005, then made his professional debut in a 2004–05 OFC Club Championship qualifier against Adelaide, before signing at FC Nurnberg.
“It was something that I’d been thinking about for quite a while,” Spiranovic told AAP.
“I started doing my own training six months prior to signing here at Victory and it just felt right to be honest, it was as if it was the stars aligned.
“I was looking for a challenge overseas and nothing really came about and then COVID hit and there was a lot of uncertainty around most of the leagues in the world.
“I just decided to stay at home with family and it’d been such a long time since I had that opportunity.
“With ‘Popa’ signing and Victory being so close to home, it just felt right and I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing in front of family and friends.
“It’s like almost going full circle – starting my career out and now being here, it’s great.”
The centre-back will reunite with former Perth Glory teammates Chris Ikonomidis, Jason Davidson and Jake Brimmer plus some familiar faces from senior and youth national teams in Robbie Kruse and Leigh Broxham.
Spiranovic will also continue a proud family tradition at Victory.
Younger sister Laura was a stalwart of the A-League Women’s team for several years, including playing in the club’s first championship in 2013-14.
Spiranovic, who has won an Asian Cup, an A-League championship and two premiers plates, hopes to emulate her success at Victory, whose men’s team are attempting to work their way back from the doldrums of the past two seasons.
“When you look at the past teams the boss has joined at Western Sydney and Perth Glory, both teams have tasted success pretty quickly,” Spiranovic said.
“I’m quietly confident we can do the same here with the squad that’s been put together, and even the coaching staff and office staff. There’s a real good feeling about the club.”
But first, he’ll cast his eye to Victory’s November 20 season-opener, an away clash with Western United at GMHBA Stadium, which the North Geelong product hopes will be the first of many games in front of friends and family.
“It’s like the fairytale ending and it’s something you always dream about,” he said.
“It’s not always easy being an Australian footballer, because you’re dragged to all corners of the world trying to play at the highest level.
“So to have this opportunity at this stage is something that I’m really embracing.”