It’s been a series of ups and downs in the short career of Anthony Carter, filled with doubt and despair. However, on the 11th of April in the last minute of the Derby of Cluj against fierce rivals Universitatea Cluj, Anthony would finally take that long-awaited step across the white line and into the world of first team senior football.
“It was great feeling to finally make my professional debut, ” Carter told Football Central.
“It was everything I had worked for. The atmosphere was amazing and it was really an amazing feeling to make my debut in a rival game. It was sad that we lost because you especially want to win these types of games.
“We were unlucky but this is football and we must go forward.”
Ever since leaving Melbourne as a seventeen year old to join Vicenza, a series of red tape and injury made the Noble Park local question whether this moment would ever happen.
“There have been many many times I wanted to go home, sometimes because I missed home, friends, my parents, and sometimes because I didn’t believe in myself. But with saying all this I would never give up on my dream and my dream is to play in Europe at the highest level.
“I’m so grateful and blessed to do what I love. It’s an amazing feeling.”
At twenty years of age, the striker who is as comfortable one on one as he is with his back to goal, started off at local Victorian clubs Springvale City, Kingston City, Box Hill Inter (Now just Box Hill), and Melbourne Phoenix. Italy would be the first overseas stop for the kid who fell in love when he joined a game with the local kids on court near his home.
“I wasn’t able to play league games but at end of that season I played in two tournaments with the Primavera side and was top goal scorer. At the end of these tournaments leading up to the new season, I made a switch to CFR Cluj.
“I made the switch to play regularly as I couldn’t get my Italian passport to play league games in Italy.
“We played in two leagues: the U19 league and against first teams in Liga 4. We had two games a week, sometimes even three games a week. I ended the first half of the season as top scorer with twenty seven goals in thirty games and just before I went home for Christmas I signed a first team contract with CFR Cluj (at 18 years of age).
“Just after Christmas as we were getting ready to finish the season with CFR Cluj U19s we had a problem with my visa and I couldn’t come back to CFR for 6 months.
“Cluj decided to send me to Parma to finish the season there training with the Primavera which was great for me and my development. The visa issues got sorted and I came back to the CFR first team in July 2013.”
Visa problems taken care of and the green light to play given, Anthony would soon be faced with another challenge to his will and determination, this time in the form of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.
“I have had my fair share of ups and downs like everybody does. Last year was a very hard time for me as I did my ACL but now I’m fully recovered and feeling great to keep pushing and show what I can do.
“When I did my ACL it was very very difficult time. I was thinking very negatively and I didn’t think I’d be able to come back to play again or play again at the level I was.
“I over came it and now I believe I am stronger as a player and as person and I believe I can do anything I set my mind to.”
CFR Cluj have won three titles in the last ten seasons, five domestic cups, participated in the Champions League group stages and the Europa League. But this recent success has come at a hefty price for the Transylvanian club and in February of this year while sitting in second place in Liga 1 they were hit with a twenty four point deduction by the Romanian Football League (RFL), sending them into the relegation zone.
Last November threats of boycotts by the playing staff for unpaid wages and bonuses forced the RFL to take action. It was found that the club owed almost $30,000,000 AUD to various parties including the players and back room staff. CFR are not alone in facing serious financial and infrastructure problems in Romania with six clubs including Bucharest pair Dinamo and Rapid filing for insolvency in the last two years. Despite these problems, Anthony said the playing group remains determined to ensure the survival of the club in the top flight.
“Yes it affected us because the team worked very hard for the points and we lost a big amount of it but we are always thinking positive,” revealed Carter.
“We are confident that we will get out of the relegation zone. We have a strong team and we can do it.”
Liga 1 is ranked fourteenth by UEFA, one spot behind Belgium’s Pro League, and according to Carter it is “physical” and a “high standard” and making the starting eleven would help him achieve his overall aim of representing Australia.
“I have one year left on my contract and I’m just focusing on proving myself and trying to play as much football as I can. I’m still learning and always trying to become a better player.
“Next season I will be pushing to make the starting eleven and one of my biggest goals would be to represent Australia at some point, I would love that.”