If you could get a direct flight from Brisbane, Australia to Breda, Netherlands it would take you 21 hours to reach your destination, without the direct flight you looking at nearly 48 hours. Of course, you would be travelling over 10,000 miles and for one young man he’s glad he took the trip. Today, Total Dutch Football talks to NAC Breda’s Alistair Quinn.
The 20-year-old Australian is currently starring for the Jong NAC Breda side in the Beloften Eredivisie and making great strides towards the NAC first team. Will Burns questions the young full-back regarding his past, life in the Netherlands so far and what the future holds for him.
THE Q & A
TDF: First things first… How did you get involved in football?
AQ: Love for football runs in my family, so it was the only sport I was ever going to play. My Grandad helped establish my local football club (Mt Gravatt Hawks) in the early 1960’s and that’s where I began playing at the age of 6.
TDF: Which club did you support as a boy and who were your heroes?
AQ: Liverpool. My best friend in primary school was a very passionate Liverpool supporter and we always used to watch the Merseyside derbies together at his house. That’s probably why Steven Gerrard was without a doubt my main footballing hero growing up!
TDF: You have appeared for Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at youth level? How did play for those club come about?
AQ: I progressed through the system in Queensland to be selected in the QAS (Queensland Academy of Sport). Roar typically sources their youth players from QAS so I was asked for a trial when I was 16 and was successful. I played for Roar from 2009-2012 in the NYL team and the next season I played for WSW.
TDF: And you also appeared at youth level for the Australia national side? How was that experience?
AQ: It was a great experience. It’s always an honour to wear the green and gold and definitely a career highlight of mine. I was lucky enough to travel to Japan and play against teams like Mexico, so it was an unbelievable experience.
TDF: I understand you can play in defence and midfield? Which do you feel more at home with?
AQ: Growing up I always played in the midfield, but when I started at Roar the coaches thought I was better suited to play fullback. I am still comfortable playing in the midfield and out wide, but fullback is where I feel more at home now.
TDF: Brisbane is a long, long way from Breda. How did the move to the Netherlands materialise?
AQ: I had been in Scotland trialing (Queen of the South and Hamilton Academicals) and things didn’t quite work out for me there. At around that time I contacted my now agent and we discussed some possibilities for me. What my game was like, what I wanted to achieve in football and we decided that the best thing to do would be to try and play in the Netherlands.
So I went over to the Netherlands where I prepared for club trials by training with my agent’s partners. Following a month or so of training I was able to secure an initial short trial with NAC Breda. I did well in the first session and they invited me to play a game for their reserves.
I had a good game and even scored a goal from left fullback. That led to them offering me a trial until the end of the year.
I performed well both at training and other friendly matches and did enough to earn a contract with the reserves side which started in January.
TDF: How are you finding living in Holland and are you learning to speak Dutch?
AQ: I am thoroughly enjoying living in Holland. Culturally it is quite similar to Australia and most people here are pretty laid back and friendly. Another positive is that almost everyone is fluent in English. I picked up all the football related words and phrases pretty quickly, but I may take a while until I am speaking Dutch fluently! I am getting Dutch lessons soon, so hopefully I will be speaking it well by the end of the season!
TDF: What were your first impressions of NAC Breda, anything you expected?
AQ: Before I started at NAC I was told that it’s a warm club with passionate supporters. Since I have been with the club everyone has welcomed me with open arms, which has been great. Graham Arnold and Tony Vidmar are still remembered fondly by the staff at the club as well and I hope to follow in their footsteps.
TDF: What are your aims for this season and beyond at the club?
AQ: My aims at the moment are to continue improving and developing as a player. I’ve learned so much in my short time here and I want to continue growing. The reserve coach at NAC, Anton Joore has been fantastic and has really been a massive help and influence on me.
With my continued improvement I feel like I’m on the cusp of beginning to train with the first team and that’s my goal over the next few weeks. Hopefully once that happens I can train well with the first team, to the point that I could possibly get a game in the Eredivisie by the end of the season.
Even if I’m not able to do that, I really want to be able to show the club that I have what it takes to play first team football so that hopefully I can secure a first team contract for next season. That’s my ultimate goal for the next few months.
Beyond that I’d like to establish myself as a first team player at NAC into the future and then play well enough to hopefully force myself into the calculations for the Olyroos and eventually the Socceroos.
Having represented the Under 20s, I would love the opportunity to put on the Green and Gold again and I know the only way I can make that happen is to continue working hard here, developing my game and becoming a better footballer.
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