Former Sydney FC youngster lands European contract
After being part of Sydney FC’s 2016/17 squad that won the league and Grand Final double, Antoniou was released after being unable to force his way into Graham Arnold’s side.
Despite this setback Antoniou earnt a move to Cypriot first divsion side AEK Larnaka in January last year, but was thwarted by red tape just as he was about to sign.
With his dream of playing in the country of his parents’ heritage on hold, he returned to Oz and licked his wounds while turning out for Rockdale City,
But despair then turned to delight when Cypriot top division side Alki Oroklini stepped in to offer him his first European pro deal
Speaking to FTBL from Cyprus, Antoniou lauded Rockdale City for their support in getting his career back on track as he was finally able to fulfil his European football dream.
“I can’t thank them enough, they were such a great club for the short period of time I was there,” said the 21-year-old.
“They were good enough to agree that If an A-League club or a club from overseas came knocking they would happily let me go and allow me to push further into my footballing career.
“Even though they weren’t happy to see me leave, as we obviously had unfinished business in the season, they still allowed me to go.
“As soon as I approached them about the possibility of going to Cyprus, they were great about it. “
Despite the frustration of being so close yet so far, Antoniou never had doubts that another chance to play in Europe would come his way.
“Last year when I left Cyprus I wasn’t too worried that there wouldn’t be another opportunity,” he said.
“I knew that if you just keep playing good football, wherever you are, you can always push for better. I was pretty confident I could return to Cyprus no matter who I was playing for.
“I’m very happy that I ended up at Alki.”
Antoniou’s new club does not boast the pedigree, budget or European experience of the big clubs in Cyrpus such as APOEL Nicosia and Apollon Limassol.
But after climbing from the Cypriot fourth division in 2014-15 to the top flight last season, Antoniou is excited to be part of club that possesses an underdog spirit.
“While the budget isn’t massive compared to other clubs, I can tell you that the quality is there,” he said.
“There are such good footballers at the club and the coach doesn’t care if we are the least paid team in the league, he wants us to go out to win every game.
“So it’s a very good environment and I’m very happy.
“The coach trusts me and he’s told me that there is still room for my game to improve and I feel like I’m really going to develop my football here.”
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