Academy Spotlight: Antony Barbic

Getting to know the young defender breaking through the ranks.

It might surprise you to learn that Antony Barbic – a versatile defender from our Academy set up, played most of his youth football as an attacking midfielder.


He is not the first player to undergo a big positional change, legendary defender Carles Puyol
famously used to be a striker, but it is not common for a player to undergo a massive shift at the age of 17, which is when Barbic joined the Wanderers.


Barbic says there was a key reason as to why his coaches decided to remodel him as a key
defender.


“I had a massive growth spurt just before I joined the Wanderers, I grew about 10 centimetres.
So they looked at me and said ‘we can use your height at the back.”


“[They said] you can keep your attacking qualities, help start the attack from back there, and
then they just taught me how to defend a bit.”


The logic behind the move makes sense; modern defenders need to know how to play with the
ball at their feet, so a player with the right physicality who can play out the back is almost the
ideal defender for coach Andrew Christiansen.


However sometimes it is easier said than done when learning the important principles of
defending quickly in an environment where you are going up against top attackers, but Barbic
feels Christiansen and the Wanderers coaching staff helped make the transition smoother.


“At the end of last year they experimented with me at centre back, and I don’t think it took me
too long [to adjust]. Before you know it [there were] trial matches against Sydney Olympic and
Rockalde within a month [of changing position].”


“I think Christo and Richie [assistant coach Richie Cardozo] really drilled into me ‘win your
duels’, they helped me big time with my confidence and everything.”


“I found that extremely helpful for me, building up my confidence, teaching me little tips and
tricks like staying light on your feet, staying side on, and it really helped me transform my game.”


It marks a quick rise to the first grade level for Barbic, who started last year in the U18s side and also made three appearances for the U20s team.


He made his first grade debut in the opening match of the season against Sutherland off the
bench, and has played 11 games for the NPL NSW side, with six of those being starts.
Whilst he is enjoying a good run in the side at the moment, he knows in a talented Wanderers
team this will not always be the case, and he says this season is teaching him to focus on
controlling the aspects of the game he can control.


“It’s just little things. Every day during training you get there a bit earlier, do what you need to do to get yourself ready. Make sure you’re 100% during training and [do] a little bit extra afterwards in the gym.”


“Just make sure you’re doing everything you can on the field and off the field. Give yourself a
little bit extra chance to be involved in the starting lineup, and even when you’re not, don’t drop your head, because in the end it’s not going to be the case every week.”


This attitude can only serve Barbic well, and as a childhood Wanderers fan, his goal is to push
himself closer to the A-League side.


“[I’d like to] get a few train-on’s with the A-League side, and we build into that training with the
A-League team, that’d be one of my main goals.”


“[I] supported the Wanderers from a young age as well, so it would be a dream come true.