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16-02-2017  Five minutes with: Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Paul Izzo
By Greg Prichard

Paul Izzo made his A-League debut at the age of 17 against Central Coast when they were the competition's top team. Five years on he's trying to help the Mariners rise again.

TWG: You recently turned 22 which many say is young for a goalkeeper at senior level. Do you feel like you've got a whole world of learning and improvement in front of you?

PI: Yeah, of course. You go back to last year and the jump was massive for me, joining the Mariners and getting a lot of games, and I'm still learning and training hard and there are plenty of things I want to improve on. I know a lot of people are happy with me at the moment, but personally I know I can get better at some things and take my game to another level.

TWG: You faced a battle with experienced goalkeeper Ivan Necevski for the spot at the Mariners at the start of this season and you've got it now and appear to have it ongoing. That must be great for your development.

PI: Yeah, Ivan has got plenty of experience behind him and has been around the A-League for so long. We have a fantastic relationship with each other and we push each other very hard at training. It's just fantastic competition for both of us.

TWG: How long are you contracted at the Mariners?

PI: My contract is up at the end of the season. The club and my manager are talking at the moment.

TWG: Ideally, are you keen to stay?

PI: Oh, of course. It has been a fantastic move for me and that was the aim when I moved out here from Adelaide, I was in search of game-time. I was young, but it came to me quicker than expected and now things have worked out for me.

TWG: You've been in the A-League system for a long time now, even though you're still young. You made your debut for Adelaide United when you were just 17.

PI: Yeah, I was at the AIS when I was 15, 16, and I went to Adelaide after that, at 17, so I've been training with senior players for a while now and that has been great for me. I actually made my debut against the Mariners, in 2012.

TWG: Can you remember that day, or is it all a blur?

PI: Back then the Mariners were challenging for the title, so they were a big team, and Adelaide were going through a tough time, so going into that game I was extremely nervous. I was just a baby.

TWG: Are you living on your own at the Central Coast?

PI: I'm living with my girlfriend, Nina, at Wamberal. She's from Adelaide as well. The lifestyle is fantastic, especially in the summer.

TWG: You must have been childhood sweethearts.

PI: (Laughs) Yeah, I guess we were. We first got together as teenagers, while we were still at school.

TWG: What do you like to do when you've got a day off from football?

PI: Ever since I moved here I love going fishing. It's a great way of relaxing. The beaches are amazing as well, so I've got plenty to do.

TWG: Do you consider yourself an expert with rod and reel?

PI: I've got all the gear, but no idea. But I still love it and you can still catch fish even if you're not an expert. Flathead, bream - I know a couple of nice spots up here.

TWG: What are your interests apart from that?

PI: I like my AFL, coming from Adelaide. I played it a bit at school, but it didn't work out for me. I was a full-forward, which was good training for a goalkeeper.

TWG: Who has been the biggest influence on you as a footballer?

PI: Eugene (Galekovic) was a fantastic person to work under at Adelaide. He's very willing to help the young 'keepers and he took me under his wing at training. Also, the club's goalkeeper coach at the time, Peter Blazincic, was great for me. And now the goalkeeping coach at the Mariners, Matt Nash, does countless hours of training with me.

PI: My parents, Angelo and Lika. They've done a pretty good job of steering me in the right direction.

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