Belconnen United's George Timotheou. Photo: Melissa Adams
Belconnen United's newest recruit has spent the past one year learning under a Socceroos great and wants to use his stint in the National Premier League as the stepping stone to an A-League contract.
Exciting 16-year-old defender George Timotheou will make the transition to the senior ranks when he lines up for the Blue Devils in Friday night's season opener against Tuggeranong United at McKellar Park.
Timotheou has joined Belconnen United after completing a scholarship at Football Federation Australia's Centre of Excellence at the AIS with head coach Tony Vidmar.
Vidmar was a central defender who made 76 appearances for the Socceroos from 1991 to 2006.
Timotheou has been in camp with Australia's under-20 squad, the Young Socceroos, and has aspirations to get picked up by an A-League club next season to play in the National Youth League.
"I learnt a lot from Tony and he would give me a lot of tips before and after training,'' Timotheou said.
"He thought I already had the technical aspect, it was just the defensive aspect he helped me to improve and he was happy by the end of it.
''Winning every physical battle week in and week out is what you need to get used to go to the next level.''
Timotheou was one of several first-team regulars rested from an under-strength Belconnen United side thrashed 8-0 by Canberra FC in the pre-season cup final on Tuesday night.
Belconnen United went through the group stages unbeaten, but coach Dean Ugrinic fielded several youngsters in the decider to manage a busy workload of three games in six days.
Ugrinic is in his first season in charge after doing a sterling job in leading Woden Valley to the finals last year.
Expectations will be much higher at Belconnen United, which is in a rebuilding mode following the retirements of Matt Valeri, Ben Klug and Elliott Zwangobani and the departures of Michael Reeve, Callum Smith (both Canberra Olympic) and Misko Naumoski (Canberra City).
More than half the nine teams have new coaches this season, including Frank Cachia at grand final winners Olympic.
In other changes, Ray Junna has joined league champions Canberra FC, Steve Forshaw is at Tuggeranong United and Mitch Stevens is at the helm at Woden.
Olympic has lost Hristjan Tanoski (Rockdale City Suns), Matt Cachia (Monaro Panthers State League), Robbie Schroder (Weston-Molonglo FC) and Joel Valtonen (sabbatical), who can all play in the back four, but have picked up Reeve, Smith and Adam Rogic, the older brother of Socceroos midfielder Tom.
"Adam's more of a passer than a dribbler, but both have excellent techniques,'' Frank Cachia said.
"The expectation is we defend our title, so first and foremost the goal is making the top four and see where that takes us after that.''
Friday night's game kicks off at 7pm.