< Ultra Mag
Previous Article Next Article
ULTRA MAG | Issue 5 - Chris Ikonomidis

ULTRA MAG | Issue 5 - Chris Ikonomidis

Article by: Mickey

Fri, Nov 26.21

ULTRA MAG | Issue 5 - Chris Ikonomidis
Chris Ikonomidis is one of the most exciting players in Australia. The new Melbourne Victory marquee signing caught up with us recently to talk about his move to Melbourne, life in hotel quarantine, his experience in Italy and who has the best style at the club.

With Victory firing and off to their best start in years, we know it's going to be a massive 2022 ahead for the Victory star.

We hope you enjoy this one.

How are you finding Melbourne so far, Chris? Had you been here much outside of football before you made the move?

So far I’m really enjoying Melbourne and everything this city has to offer. Obviously working around lockdowns and an intense training schedule means it's going to take me a bit of time to see the very best of the city, but so far I’ve found some pretty cool spots. I've never been to Melbourne besides travelling in for a fly in fly out game. I’m super excited to explore.

You mentioned you've done a couple of stints in hotel quarantine of late. What did you do to stay mentally and physically in shape? Was it a challenge?

Anyone who has completed a spell of 14 day quarantine either at home or in a hotel room will understand how truly mentally challenging it is. Unfortunately I’ve completed 4 two week long quarantine periods since Covid began. Staying mentally focused and having a generally positive attitude will definitely make the 2 weeks go by easier. I wan fortunate enough to at least have a treadmill in my room so that I could keep fit physically and blow off some steam when I felt caged up.

We're trying to help change the landscape in Australia in terms of players being themselves and being confident doing so. Did you find back in Italy players did this a bit more naturally than here?

I definitely think that there is a culture difference between the Italian football scene and football culture here down under. Players are more reserved here and encouraged to not stand out and show their personalities off the pitch. In Italy it is the complete opposite. Players are constantly setting the trends in Italy and it is mostly off the pitch in regards to fashion, style, culture, music and social media. The general public is always looking at footballers to see where the next trends are leading.

Who were some of the players in Italy you played with that pushed the boundaries off the pitch in terms of how they presented themselves?

I remember sharing a change room with Ciro Immobile for 2 years. He definitely stood out to me as someone who brought his personality and style into training everyday. He always had the latest of everything and made sure that he was displaying his personal style in all his ventures. Whether it be on the pitch, at a red carpet event or an advert for one of the many big brand sponsors he had. He is someone who is definitely not afraid to show his style.

Ultra Mag - Chris Ikonomidis

Which of your new Melbourne Victory teammates would you go to for fashion advice?

Haha Jason Davidson will definitely think it is him, but I’m going to have to go with young Lleyton Brooks. The guy has immaculate fashion and always hooks me up with the laters sneakers. 

Can you please take us back to when you left Sutherland Sharks to head over to Atalanta. What was that like as a young guy? Were you away from your family for a long time and what were some of the challenges?

Moving overseas at 16 years of age was definitely the most challenging thing I’ve done in my life. I didn’t speak a word of Italian and I had to adapt very quickly to the culture, country and football. I gave up a lot and sacrificed an enormous amount especially in those early years. Being away from friends and family for a such a long time at such a young age is definitely testing and it undoubtedly shaped the person and player I am today.

Did you find it a bit of a culture shock trying to settle in to Bergamo? What's the most significant difference in culture between playing in Aus and in Italy that you had to adapt to and how long did it take?

Settling into Bergamo was definitely a massive culture shock. Adapting to the new country, language and culture was hard enough but then having to adapt to the intensity of training and the ruthless competition for limited contracts was next level. I would say the main difference between playing in Aus and Italy is the relentless competition for positions in teams and against other teams. It is something that a lot of people based in Aus wouldn’t completely grasp until seeing it first hand in Europe.

Do you think that younger players in Australia should look for a move overseas to develop their game like you did? Or continue to cut their teeth in the A-league until they are a bit older?

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong pathway for a young player to reach his/her full potential. I’m a big believer in that ‘players who show the most sustained motivation and desire over a long period of time are the ones who reach their potential.’ The road to being a footballer is a very turbulent one with plenty of ups and downs. Being able to ride these ups and downs and stay motivated is key to success. Mental strength is everything in football.

Ultra Mag - Chris Ikonomidis

What were some of the changes you experienced football wise as soon as you got there? Was training a lot more intense and a lot more sessions across the week?

When I first arrived in Italy at the age of 16 training was alot more intense that what I had ever experienced. I went from training 2 nights a week at the Sutherland Sharks to now training 6 days a week at a much much higher intensity. It took me a good 6 months for my body to adapt to the training load so that I could start to feel sharp again.

It must be pretty cool to reflect on the fact you've played under two managers at the peak of their powers, Stefano Pilo and Simone Inzaghi, at Lazio. Did both have an impact on you as a person and player?

Both Simone Inzaghi and Stefano Pioli had a massive impact on my career and also the person I’ve become. Pioli was the man who started my football career handing me the 5 year deal I signed at Lazio while also giving me my first team debut against Saint-Étienne in the Europa League.Simone Inzaghi taught me a lot about the mental approach to football and how to be ruthless on the pitch but a gentlemen off it.

Obviously we're pretty facinated by ultras here at Ultra Football. What was it like pre and post derby della capitale? Was it an intense atmosphere in the lead up and after?

The Roma-Lazio derby is arguably one of the best in the world. It would shut down Rome for an entire day. Often shutting down many surrounding streets and suburbs. The Lazio ultras were always fantastic and you definitely could feel when they were not happy. Occasionally players who weren’t in the match day squad for the derby were not allowed to attend the match in the stadium for safety reasons. Opposition fans can occasionally get a little feisty.

Being there for 6 years you must have almost felt italian by the time you came home. Are you still able to converse with people in Italian to stay sharp? You must be a big help to new Victory signing Francesco Margiotta? 

Thankfully I haven’t forgotten any of my Italian and it has definitely come in handy. I've been helping Francesco settle into Melbourne and Victory. It’s good to have him at our club and good for me to resharpen my Italian.

Ultra Mag - Chris Ikonomidis

What was it that brought you to Melbourne Victory and what are you looking forward to most this season?

I've always been a big admirer of Victory and the fans. Victory away games were always the hardest game of the season for other teams and that's largely due to the super passionate fan base. I’m really excited to play in front of the Victory supporters this season and bring the club some much needed success after a difficult couple of years.

What's the biggest difference between life in Melbourne and Perth (apart from the coffee being better here)? 

The biggest differences to Melbourne and Perth are; The coffees are definitely better in Melbourne but the beaches are nicer in Perth. You also never know what to expect with the weather in Melbourne. It changes every 5 minutes.

Any personal goals in particular? Is the World Cup something that is driving you?

The goals this year are to have a hugely successful A-League campaign and try and get some silverware. I think our club deserves it and have definitely taken all the right steps so far to put us in that position.

And also to keep enjoying my football.

Photography by Aleksandar Jason.

Ultra Mag - Chris Ikonomidis

Share this:

Latest Reads

Latest Reads