“Not even a text message, mate.”
5 years, 76 goals and 121 NPL Victoria appearances later, Avondale goal machine Liam Boland is still yet to be contacted by an A-League side.
The Avengers captain is second overall in the NPL Victoria scoring charts this season with 22, a goal behind Green Gully’s English import Alex Salmon.
He is some 8 goals clear of his nearest Australian competitor.
Current league leaders Avondale have in the past year provided an A-League pathway for the likes of Kaine Sheppard and Elvis Kamsoba, but Boland’s performances have seemingly gone unnoticed.
Despite being thus far ignored by the top flight, Boland says he is loving life under head coach Zoran Markovski.
“We don’t do it now, but some of the teams I’ve played in previously, it’s been a lot of long ball football which is not my style,” Boland told FNR‘s Avenger Radio on Tuesday night.
“NPL in WA is a lot of English-style football. They would get sucked into playing that way when I was upfront.
“I do like to be involved in the build-up play as a hold-up striker.
“As a Spurs fan I loved watching Berbatov. Obviously I’m not as acrobatic as Ibra, but I loved watching him as well. Big men with good feet, that’s something I’ve modelled my game on.”
Boland also shared some of the secrets behind his near-immaculate record from the penalty spot – and the origin of the distinctive sidestep run-up which has served him so well.
“I’ve probably watched enough football in my time to learn from the pros like Thomas Mueller, who watch the keeper and not the ball. It throws a bit of doubt into the keeper’s mind.
“When I was younger I was watching – I think – an U21s European Championship, and it was Netherlands v England in a penalty shootout.
“At that time in Europe, Ryan Babel was supposed to be the next big thing.
“It was a massive shootout, 16-15 or something, it went for ages.
“Babel took two penalties with this big sidestep run-up. I saw it that day, I liked it, I practiced it, it worked for a couple of games and I’ve stuck with it ever since.”
Boland also addressed Avondale’s recent dip in form, and last Saturday’s heartbreaking 4-3 loss to Oakleigh in stoppage time.
“It was tough… they play such a good transition game, and we didn’t want to get sucked into that, but we did.
“Our lines were too disjointed. At times I was nowhere near Sookie [Tasuku Sekiya] – that’s a big link in the team – and then from midfield to defence…
“We’ve got to be desperate to play our style of football. That was such a big part of our success in the first 13, 14 rounds of the season.
“It’s not easy – you have to bust a gut to get on the ball, to make an extra run for your teammate. Little things like that are going to be a big focus for us in the last three games of the season.”
He reserved special praise for teammate Yusuf Ahmed, however, whose stunning long range effort against Oakleigh is no doubt a goal of the season contender.
“I haven’t seen a ball move like that in a fair while.
“I joked with Yuey [Yusuf Ahmed] last night that the ball was flat…
“It was just an unbelievable strike. There was no spin on the ball, it absolutely arrowed and swerved.
“It was a good metre above the crossbar as well and just dipped perfectly into the top corner.
“Unfortunately, that’s what it took to get us back in the game.”
Avenger Radio is the official Avondale FC club show, broadcast live on FNR every Tuesday from 7pm AEST.