World Cup One to Watch: Mathew Leckie – Australia

REUTERS/Kaan Soyturk

Having grown up dreaming of becoming an Aussie Rules footballer, Mathew Leckie’s path to professional soccer started later than most. In fact, it wasn’t until he switched schools at 11 that he got involved in the sport that would later become his career.

Fortunately, he had a natural flair for the game so his late start was never a hindrance to his development. By the age of 16, he was playing for Victorian State League Division 1 side Bulleen Lions and it took just another two years to make the step up to A-League level, signing a two-year contract for Adelaide United in 2009.

By the age of 20, the Melbourne-born midfielder had caught the eye of European scouts and was on his way to Germany to sign for Borussia Monchengladbach. A loan spell at Frankfurt followed before he made the permanent switch to Bornheim  in 2013. This proved to be an important decision in his development as he strived to adapt to the increased demands of the elite European game.

He scored 12 goals in 33 starts during his first permanent season in the German second tier and was promptly signed by FC Ingolstadt in 2014. He played a key role in getting the club promoted to the Bundesliga and spent another two seasons with them before transferring to Hertha Berlin for €3m in 2017.