Academy Spotlight: Nathan Barrie

“The next day I went back to school, and I arrived and I was like, ‘what am I doing?’”

Making your A-League Men debut at 18-years-old is a whirlwind experience, making your
A-League Men debut at 18-years-old and then going back to school must make your head spin.

So it’s little wonder Nathan Barrie took a moment to adjust to his surroundings after his Wanderers bow in March.

Barrie was a name unknown to most outside of the club, but he was thrust into the first-team after a spate of injuries and suspensions, and he can still vividly recall the moment he was told of his inclusion in the team.

“It was crazy. I just got called into the boss’s office, and he gave me the good news. I went straight on the phone to my parents, they were over the moon.

“It (was) a great experience for me, the first time in the squad, the first Away Day, it was all a good experience.”

Barrie’s debut came at half-time of the Wanderers clash against Melbourne City at AAMI Park, and whilst it was a tough situation to make a first competitive start in, Barrie stayed focused on his individual and collective task.

“Getting put on it was almost like I had nothing to lose, so I just came on, tried to bring energy, and that’s what I’ve got to do in games in the future.”

It was an A-League debut that may have seemed unlikely a few years ago, as Barrie admits he was a late bloomer in the sport.

“I think it was probably when I was 15 or 16, I was quite a late (developer), still playing at Manly United. I got an offer from the Wanderers the next year… so I guess that’s when I realised I’ve got potential.

“I’d been playing well in the last couple of seasons before I came to the Wanderers – and I had a couple of offers – but the U16s was probably my breakout year where I probably made that extra step. Then the Wanderers came around, and I couldn’t say no to that.”

He began in the U18s and U20s sides, but made swift progress and made his first grade debut by the end of the season. He has since become a regular in the NPL NSW side that is currently four points clear at the top of the table after a third of the season.

Coming up against experienced veterans in both the NPL NSW and A-League means Barrie is looking to improve his game in the professional environment.

“I’ve been working a lot on being a bit more aggressive, being a bit more of a centre back, just getting bigger, stronger and just asserting myself and trying to make myself a big presence on the pitch.”

He says club captain Marcelo has been a huge help in this space in the short time Barrie has been involved with the first team.

“He’s been a really good role model for me. He’s taught me a lot of things [when] training with them, and just the little details and his leadership has been really helpful.

“In general, that helped me get a lot smarter, (gained) game awareness, helped me with my technique and took me to another level in over a year.”

Barrie is balancing all of this with the commitments of high school, and he is gradually adjusting to the unique circumstances he faces.

“I’m getting used to it; I train in the mornings and then I rock up to school and it’s a completely different world, so I just get used to it.”

Apart from not failing maths class, Barrie wants to consolidate his spot at the Wanderers, and is looking to break through in the national set up.

“Just getting in the A-League squad for the rest of the season, I want to keep pushing that space. When that’s over I want to lead the NPL team, I want to be one of the ones that leads us and really pushes us.

“(With) the national team, I’d like to be pushing the U20s with future camps going on and just keep improving my football.”