As a local boy from the small Queensland town of Bundaberg, Clint Bolton, never thought a career in professional football was on the cards for him.
“I grew up in Bundaberg it’s a pretty isolated town, some of my mates were playing so that’s how I got into it originally,” Bolton said.
“It was only until I moved to Canberra in the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) when I was 16 that I realised I could actually make a career out of it, so I headed down that road and never looked back.”
He definitely didn’t look back, as Socceroo caps, Championships and other honours beckoned for the Bundaberg local. But he didn’t have strong ambitions of moving abroad for football, feeling a connection to home and all the comforts that came with it.
“Ironically enough the only time I went overseas was to Manchester City for a couple of weeks, and I trained there under Kevin Keegan between the NSL and the A-League.
“Ambitions wise, I was never driven to play at the ultimate or the peak at Europe. I guess the main reason why that was the case was because I enjoyed my life away from football too much.
“I enjoyed the off-season, fishing with old man and things like that.”
Football didn’t consume Bolton’s life, he was able to separate work from his private life, saying it was a “job” he needed to get done, just like anyone else.
“Football was a means to an end, it was a job and many years throughout my career it was a job, enjoyment went out the window.
“I was never driven to achieve ultimate success or ultimate heights in football, and I certainly enjoyed playing in Australia.”
Bolton takes a step back to tell us about how football has impacted him to make the man he is today. Also, reflecting on his career and admitting to having battled with depression simply because of the sheer “extremes” that football had in store for him and many others.
“The person I am now, is largely because of football. I’ve spent 19 years at the top level in this country being conditioned to be a certain way, and that’s to expect high standards.
“Being a goalkeeper you’ve got to be a perfectionist and that’s the way I’ve sort of approached most things in my life. It’s a blessing and a curse.
“It’s topical these days about elite sportsmen and depression and all that, I’m sure I’ve gone through (depression).
“I’m a person of extremes, as a footballer you go for the extremes emotionally. The highs are great and unbelievable winning championships, fortunate to do that a couple of times, but the lows on the flip side are just as big.”
Almost a year retired Bolton now embarks on a new career in management, and one that he looks to grab with both hands.
“It’s slightly different from having the boots and gloves on, but fortunately (Melbourne Heart) CEO Scott Munn always envisaged a player within the organisation away from the park.
“And this position was created around my vision of what I wanted to do after my playing career.
“(The role) is a base line in understanding the business and how it’s run, because one day I have grand ambitions to actually run the show, so I’m forever grateful to the club and Scott for giving me this opportunity.”
The former Brisbane Strikers man is passionate about former footballers taking the leap into management and making an impact in the game. And sights the Australian Football League (AFL) as an example of how former players have made the step up.
“In football in this country we haven’t had a lot players go down this road.
“You mention Robbie Middleby in Newcastle, he’s one who’s doing a good job, he started out at North Queensland Fury in really difficult circumstances and was thrown to the wolves.
“But if I was to look for inspiration, it’d probably come from outside of football. And because I’m here in Melbourne I love watching AFL, I appreciate a lot of ex-players there climbing the corporate ladder and going down the admin road.
“You just got to look to the top in the AFL and see a lot of ex-players have found pathways to head down this road. I don’t think many have achieved that within football in this country.
“I just think it’s an area that we can get more players involved in, as much as David Gallop is doing a great job at the moment he hasn’t come from a football background.
“I think we need more people calling the shots who’ve come from a football background.”
Bolton admits to being overly ambitious, but says that’s how he’s always been.
“It’s ambitious, and it’s something that I live by in my life getting out of my comfort zone and aiming big.
“If I get there one day or if I get close to it fantastic, I just think it’s one area ex-players can look into.”
NOTE: You can listen to the full interview with Clint Bolton on this weeks Football Central Extra episode ‘A Bootsa Special’ below: