As Perth Glory Football Club celebrates its 20th anniversary to mark two decades in domestic football, we pay tribute to the heroes and fan favourites of yesteryear.
For the second instalment of ‘Where Are They Now’, we caught up with another homegrown hero from the NSL era, the midfield maestro Michael Garcia.
A local favourite Garcia made 57 appearances for Perth during two stints between 1997-2000 and 2002-2003, after making his debut against Sydney United in 1998.
Garcia, who is the older brother of current club captain Richard, known for his attacking and unquestionable poise on the ball, claimed an NSL championship medal in the 2002-2003 season.
For Garcia playing in front of his home crowd was the ultimate experience.
“Having family and friends support you at matches was a highlight being a homegrown player,” the former Olyroo said.
The AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) product also enjoyed almost two years at fellow NSL outfit Canberra Cosmos, and insisted the interstate rivalry was strong.
“I left home for the AIS at 15,” he revealed.
“Playing for Canberra, there was always banter between teammates about which state was the best,” he added.
The former Australian under-23 player, who has been an integral part of Glory’s Community Development since March 2011, was full of praise for the club’s ‘Perth Oval Factor’.
“As a player, it felt like a carnival was taking place,” the Olympic Kingsway junior said.
“The atmosphere and buzz was definitely an advantage over visiting teams – who I know were envious and intimidated by the noise and numbers; it was ahead of its time,” the left-sided midfielder stated.
Much like Tommy Maras (Glory’s inaugural goalkeeper), Garcia saw the best of Glory icon Bobby Despotovski, a player he views as his favourite during his time with the Perth side.
“He had a good football brain, good all-round technique, was unpredictable, scored goals and set them up,” Garcia reflected.
“He also trained hard and was very disciplined,
“He was the most popular player with the supporters I have seen at Perth Glory,” he admitted.
After being forced to hang up his boots in Glory’s 2002-2003-championship year due to an arthritic knee, the 39-year-old has remained a key figure in WA football.
‘Garc’ spent almost seven years in the banking sector with the Commonwealth Bank before moving back into football. The Australian youth international led the Inglewood United Reserves to the league and Top Four Cup double in 2013, while continuing his role in the Community Development department at Glory.
When asked about the current state of the Glory side, Garcia was full of optimism.
“The current squad looks very strong,” he said.
“It has a good blend of youth and experience, home grown players, as well as Diego Castro, who was on another level last season.
“The squad is well coached by Kenny and I’m sure it will be an exciting season,” he said.