Blake Ricciuto is a player that will catch your eye immediately, if his iconic hairstyle and trademark goal celebration didn’t already draw your attention, his cultured right foot, impeccable first touch, and extraordinary eye for goal certainly would.
After making his debut at only 15 for St. George FC, in what is now known as the NPL 2, Ricciuto would quickly become a key player for the side, and after 3 seasons at the club, Ricciuto would have the chance to go over to Uruguay to trial with Danubio.
After impressing during his lengthy trial at the club, Danubio would offer Ricciuto a contract, however only three days later due to circumstances unrelated to himself, the club would rescind the contract, leaving him without a club.
“After my time at St. George, I went to Uruguay just to trial, and see how I’d go, I was there for three months trialling and doing really well with the reserves (…) the coaches both pulled me aside and said ‘we’re happy, we’re going to sign you” Riccuto said.
“I was very emotional, I was happy and we started getting all the paperwork done, getting my medical done and the day after my medical I went back to training and they said ‘we’re sorry to tell you that that we can’t sign you’.”
“Apparently the person that got me the trial (…) I never met the person, because it was all over a phone call (…) that person was having a bit of a fight with the head of football”.
“They said that ‘we’re not signing any players from this agent’ but, really I wasn’t his player, it was just a phone call, they had the idea that I was his player, but at the end of the day the deal fell through and which was a shame but better things were to come..”
And better things were certainly to come, with a trial at his childhood club, C.A Peñarol in Uruguay, where he was able to show his skills and impress greatly, eventually being offered a contract by manager Paolo Montero.
In only his second start for Peñarol B, Ricciuto would come back to haunt Danubio, with scores 1-1, and his side a man down, Ricciuto would score a 94th minute winner after curling shot in the top corner from outside the box, to give his side a 2-1 victory.
“To be honest, it still gives me a bit of goosebumps, my dad is from Uruguay and my grandparents, they always used to follow Peñarol, it was actually a childhood dream to actually sign with them”.
“Even putting the jersey on the first time to actually trial with them was such a special moment and then the day that Paolo Montero, who was coach at the time wanted to sign me (…) being in such a big club like that, it was one of the highlights of my career”.
“you’d see people wearing jersey and I was lucky enough to be actually playing. (for Peñarol)”.
Ricciuto, (2nd from left) after scoring the winning goal against Danubio.
During his time in Uruguay, he would also go out on loan to Segunda División side Canadian S.C, where he would become a key member of the squad, featuring 27 times in a season that would almost lead to promotion, with his side falling just short in the play-off final 2-1.
He would then return to Australia, signing a deal with NPL side Rockdale City Suns, where he would enjoy stellar form and quickly become a household name and a favourite among fans.
“There was a lot of good players around me”.
“I just felt like I could just be myself”.
His performances at Rockdale would culminate with him named in the NPL team of the year and as the Rockdale player of the year in 2 of his 3 seasons at the club.
“Credit to the coaching staff and all the players around me I kind of kind of had a free role and I could do what I wanted and things like that, I felt that was the key to why I did so well”.
Blake Ricciuto was a fan favourite among Rockdale fans.
After his scintillating stint at the Suns, Ricciuto would end up moving overseas again, and after successful trials leading to offers from Brunei DPMM in the Singapore Premier League, and Tampa Bay Rowdies in America’s USL, after weighing up his options, he would choose to sign for Brunei DPMM over Tampa Bay.
He would turn out to be an incredible signing for the Bruneian side, playing a key role in the clubs title winning 2019 season, where he scored 9 goals in 23 appearances from midfield for the side, culminating with being named in the Singapore Premier League’s team of the season.
Ricciuto would leave Brunei DPMM after deciding not to renew his contract, instead taking up an offer from Spanish side Vélez CF, but after signing the contract with Vélez, COVID 19 prevented him from going over to Spain to finalise the move, due to not knowing how long Ricciuto would be stuck in Australia and unable to travel, he and the club decided to mutually terminate the contact and part ways.
“That would have been a great opportunity for me to go to Europe and things like that, and they actually got promoted so it’s a bit of a bummer, but it’s part of football”.
After this disappointment, Ricciuto would move back to Asia and sign for S-League side Tanjong Pagar United, where he currently remains, and he has had an exceptional start to life in Singapore playing every minute so far for his side, and has showed his eye for goals, being involved in 35% of all the club’s goals.
“I’m enjoying my time here in Singapore, it’s a new challenge, I came here knowing that it was going to be a different challenge because Tanjong Pagar is the new club, it is only its second year back from when a long layoff of a few years, so they had to start from zero really”.
Ricciuto celebrating with team mates at Tanjong Pagar United.
Ricciuto’s side Tanjong Pagar United currently sit 7th on the ladder in the S-League, after 10 matches, and will return to action on the 4th of July against Hougang United FC.
“It’s been difficult result wise, but I think we’re progressing, and there’s a lot of improvement and I think that we’re working towards something (…) you can see the progress happening, so now it’s just about getting results football wise we’re playing some good football and we’re getting a few good results”.
“We just believe in ourselves; it’s been a great experience and I’m enjoying it”.
Images Supplied: Tanjong Pagar United, Blake Ricciuto, S-League