Curtis Good

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter

 

Some of Australia's leading sportsmen have come through the Australian Institute of Sport over the years, and Newcastle's latest recruit is determined to follow in their footsteps.

Cricketers Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath, as well as ex-Magpie Mark Viduka, are just three graduates of the AIS who have gone on to perform at the highest level of their respective sports.

Nineteen-year-old defender Curtis Good, who signed for United on Tuesday, spent two years at the Canberra-based facility before securing a contract at Melbourne Heart, and believes it played a major role in his development and eventual switch to Tyneside.

"I was there for just over two years and left when I was just about to turn 16," he told nufc.co.uk of the Institute, which has produced countless Olympians as well.

"That was a really important time for me. Before then, I never really had it in my mind to become a professional, but then that experience changed all that.

"We had Jan Versleijen as our coach, and his Dutch background meant that we played the ball a lot on the floor and concentrated on keeping it and that was a great footballing education.

"Being there also made me grow up. You have to leave home, you're living by yourself, doing schooling by yourself and the first four months there was probably the hardest time I've ever experienced.

"But after that I loved it and wouldn't have given it up for anything. It changed me as a person and a player."

Good continued: "You obviously aspire to the footballers who have played there, but there were other fantastic sportsmen studying there.

"The swimmers had to get up at 4.30am to train, and when we were getting up they were just coming back from the pool to have breakfast.

"That's real commitment and watching guys like that can only inspire you to achieve your own goals."

When the opportunity to swap Down Under for the Premier League arose earlier this summer, Good sought the advice of Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi.

Aloisi had been there and done it in England, regularly finding the back of the net for Portsmouth and Coventry over a four-year spell.

And the message was simple.

"He told me, if you want to come over here then you've got to do it when you're a bit younger," revealed Good.

"That helped me make my decision even easier.

"He came over when he was young and made the steps up and was scoring goals in the Premier League.

"I think if you're older you could find it tough to adapt, but coming in now, at this age, you can get the hard work done and hopefully break through.

"There have been a few players with similar paths to me, coming from the Institute and then coming over here to the Premier League.

"But ask all of them and they will tell you they have put in loads of hard work.

"You can't just come here and play - you have to earn the right and work hard for the right, and that's what I intend to do."

To read part one of Curtis Good's exclusive interview with nufc.co.uk click here, and for part two click here.

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