The number of young Aussies heading abroad has barely slowed down even with the growth of the Hyundai A-League. The lure of Europe still remains strong and for many the limited squad spaces available in Australia leave them with no choice. The number of young West Australians who have ventured abroad particularly to the UK is a real standout. Connor Thurston (18) is another such player who is with English Championship side, Blackpool FC. On the verge of the first team, we caught up with him to learn more about his journey so far.
Tell us about your time at Perth SC and how important the club and coaches like Gavin Tait were in your development?
Perth SC introduced me to a coach I will never forget Gavin Tait. He has a lot of knowledge on the game which he helped me improve my game in every training session, he believed in me when many didn’t so the club and coaches are very important to me.
Tait has described you as a fullback who likes to get forward. How would you describe yourself?
I love to get forward any chance to get forward and make a attacking impact or get a shot off at goal ill be there, lucky my fitness is in my favour at the moment allowing me to get up and down the right wing.
There seems to be a lot of WA boys over in the UK at the moment. Why do you think this is?
I think its because England is all about football its a place to test yourself and see if you can play and train with the best. I also believe football is taken a lot more serious in England and is respected a lot.
Do you catch up with many of the other West Aussies/Aussies over there?
Yes I do, I catch up with my mate from Sydney Jake (Adelson) who plays for Everton , we both get very home sick so its a buzz when we see each other.
How did the trial at Blackpool come about?
I decided that I didn’t want to do anything else than play football , so my dad and Gavin Tait decided it would be a good idea to send me off to England to see if I was mentally and physically ready, I got very lucky to get a day trail at Blackpool FC
Was Perth Glory ever an option for you?
Perth Glory is my home town team so I would of loved to give Glory a shot but I wanted to try my luck in England where legends such as Tim Cahill were made.
What were the hardest adjustments on and off the pitch you had to make when you moved over there?
The hardest adjustment for me was to leave my family and friends I’m very close with my family and friends it still doesn’t feel right not seeing them everyday also the Australian and English lifestyle is very different. On the field the game became a lot faster and very physical compared to playing back home in the Australia.
How have you found the last year at Blackpool? How has your game developed since you’ve been there?
Blackpool FC has been the best thing I could’ve done, my game has developed by miles since I’ve been training and playing here.
Has anyone from the FFA been in touch or come to watch you play?
They have been in touch, but have not came to any of my games.
What is your goal this season?
My goal this season is to make a debut off the bench for the first team and get a chance in the U20 Australian side and represent my country. I’m a very proud Australian and want to give something back.
How about long term?
Long term I would love to be a regular first team player for Blackpool FC and one day play in the World Cup for Australia.
What have been your highlights so far?
My biggest highlight so far was being called into the managers office to be told that I was in the first team squad sitting on the bench at the Reebok stadium in an FA Cup derby against Bolton.
Also playing Liverpool in the FA youth cup drawing 3-3, surprising a lot of people.
You can find Connor on Twitter: @connorthurston