Gillies continues to impress in 18’s

Gillies continues to impress in 18’s

Posted on July 29, 2016 in 'News'

After missing the start of the season due to injury ECU Joondalup Under 18’s big defender Neil Gillies has been a rock at the back.

The 16-year-old centre back said after a slow start to the season he is now back to full fitness. “I missed the first two games of the season through injury and I took a few games to get back to full fitness but since then I have been playing well and in particular the last few weeks I have been in my best form,” he explained. “I have scored four goals as well which have been a bonus for me and the team.”

After a slow start the team struggled early, but they have been in fine form in recent games, including a stunning 5-1 win against the then league leaders Stirling Lions.  “As a team we started the season poorly and were conceding a lot of goals, but in the last eight games or so we have been playing much better football and are improving each week,” he said. “We are much tighter at the back, and are taking more of our chances. We think we can beat any team in the league and I think if we make top four at the end of the season we think we could go on to win it.”

Gillies started his football in Australia at Heathridge, then played for ECU from under 9’s to under 13’s, before heading to Quinns FC for two seasons before coming back to ECU in 2014. The defender said the reputation of ECU for unearthing players was a huge drew back to the club. “ECU are a great club and have developed many players, who now play at professional level in England or Australia,” Gillies said. “You can see now many of Perth Glory’s players came through the club academy, so for me it’s great to play for a club that has produced so many professional players.”

ECU Coach Paul Welch said Gillies has been outstanding, especially now he is fully fit. “Neil missed the first couple of games through breaking a bone in his foot in pre-season. It is no coincidence that when he returned we managed to change our fortunes around and he also became our leading goalscorer scoring four weeks on the trot,” he said.

“Through adversity we see the true qualities of people and I have seen that in Neil he never gives up, while other players are attached to their X-boxes outside of training not Neil every time I had to go to the club last year he was there with a ball practicing, then bouncers, training and matches 16’s and 18’s. That is great determination and commitment, I have actually had to stop him playing at bouncers {try anyway}. If you put effort into something look at Iceland’s, Wales and of course Leicester City’s players it rewards you and long may it continue with Neil now and into the future.”

Gillies said the influence of Welch on his football has improved his game. “I think Paul has influenced me a lot as a player in the two years he has coached me,” he said. “He has been a family friend for a long time, and I really enjoy playing under him. He gave me the coaches’ player award last season and that has given me a lot of confidence for this season and the future.”

Like many players Gillies has an ambition to play at the highest level, and he said being at ECU will help him achieve this, but knows he has to work hard. “My ambition is definitely to play football professionally, and I hope to be playing my football in America in the next few years at college level or higher,” he explained. “It would also be a dream to trial in the UK, but I know I need to work hard and keep improving my game if that is come reality.”