Compared to his A-League counterparts, Perth Glory defender Shane Lowry has taken an unconventional route to the top.
With most players now getting their start in the A-League, not many of the current crop of Australian talents began their journey overseas.
For Lowry, however, it was an eleven-year odyssey all over England where he paved his current career path at a plethora of different clubs through the English football pyramid.
Lowry signed for the Aston Villa Youth Academy in 2005 at the age of sixteen, spending the next seven years under the tutelage of Martin O’Neill, Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish.
“It was a fantastic experience being around all these top-class players and managers,” Lowry said.
“It just didn’t happen for me to break into the Premier League and I went down a different path but I [have] really fond memories of being at Aston Villa.”
During this spell, Lowry spent four loan spells at the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Leeds United, Sheffield United and Millwall.
Eventually, the Den became his permanent home in 2012, and he played over 90 games in three seasons for Millwall, including an FA Cup semi-final against eventual champions Wigan Athletic in 2013.
“You go to certain clubs and you just click,” Lowry said.
“I had a great relationship with the fans, I played some of my best football at Millwall and I loved the atmosphere there,”
“The fans do get a bit of a bad wrap but if you are playing for them they’re absolutely unbelievable.”
The thirty-one year-old defender was also called up to Australia’s provisional squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, where he failed to make the final 23, but was able to learn alongside some of the best talents ever produced down under.
“For me, it was another fantastic experience,” Lowry said.
“It was still at the time when it was the ‘golden generation’, so you walk into camp and you see the likes of Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill there,”
“Which – to be honest, it was a bit daunting.”
Lowry has enjoyed a career season at the Glory, playing a huge part in their miserly defence, which has conceded a league-best sixteen goals this season and kept seven clean sheets.
The defender found himself in unfamiliar waters last week when he slammed home the opener in their 3-0 win over Wellington, but he’s still more focused on keeping them out of his own net.
“I think [Head Coach Tony Popovic] wants me to keep them out the other end,” Lowry said
“I’m happy I have two this season but ideally I want some more if I can,”
“For me it’s similar to scoring a goal, if you keep a clean sheet you won’t lose a game,”
“We probably should have kept more this season, but seven is still pretty good.”
The Glory have one of their biggest games of the season this weekend, against top-of-the-table rival Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Lowry, however, believes it’s business as usual as they come up against a side they have already defeated once this season in the same fixture back in Round 2.
“We will do our homework on them,” Lowry said.
“It’s a massive game for us and a massive game for Melbourne too,”
“For us we will go into the game with a lot of confidence.”