Since becoming a first team regular, Adelaide United midfielder Louis D’Arrigo has looked right at home being one of many local talents coming out of South Australia to break into first team with United.
Now in the first team set up, the 20-year-old is optimistic about the upcoming season, hopeful the team can build on an impressive run last year where the Reds reached the semi finals, bowing out after a 2-1 defeat to reigning premiers Sydney FC.
D’Arrigo says he expects the side to build upon last year and once again will be out to play finals football.
“I think the expectations are probably the same [as last season] if not better,” D’Arrigo said.
“To be better than last season, obviously we made the semi final but we want to go beyond and make the Grand Final and of course win the final, everyone so far is feeling good for the [upcoming] season.”
D’Arrigo would also draw back on his time coming through the ranks at United, having starred at Y-League level and with the club’s NPL side.
D’Arrigo would make his A-League Men’s debut back in the 2018-19 season, coming on as a substitute against Sydney FC in what was his only appearance, before becoming a first team regular the following year.
And though he’s adjusted to the top flight level of football now, he admits he felt a difference when making the step up to senior football.
“There’s a big difference, at first, I think I was 16-17 coming into the team and it’s a big difference from youth team,” he said.
“And obviously now I am getting more used to it as the years go on, but I’m loving it very much [being in the first team].”
Having grown up a Reds fan, D’Arrigo touched on making the transition from a fan to a player, admitting he’s loving the opportunity to play football professionally in his home state and for his boyhood club.
“It’s good, very good, I used to go to all the home games and now to play in front of a home crowd it’s even more special to play in front of a packed stadium and get to represent my home team” he said.
D’Arrigo is just one of many local talents that have progressed through the ranks of the Adelaide academy, with Al-Hassan and Mo Toure, Lachlan Brook, Kusini Yengi, Joe Gauci, Yaya Dukuly and Jonny Yull all local South Australian talent to make the step up to the first team in recent seasons.
The club has achieved success with its youth program, being one of the best in the league in utilising its youth talent, with players not looking out of place at A-League Men’s level when called upon.
D’Arrigo credits the club with the work that has been done in making sure its youth program is successful, saying that it’s been great to see many of the players from his junior football days in Adelaide make the jump.
“First of all it’s credit to the club, they’re looking at the youth team games and they’re seeing who is doing well and to give the youngsters confidence and bring them into the first team training and giving them a chance which is excellent.
“It’s good to see Adelaide bring a lot of youngsters in, I’ve known most of the young boys [in the squad] since I was very young as well, so we’ve all come through the system.
“I think we’re the best club at promoting in the youth team all the way to the first team, so that’s very good to see.”
The midfielder would also touch on how his form at youth level has given him the belief he can perform at senior level, having been awarded the Y-League player of the season in 2017-18 and Adelaide United’s youth player of the year in 2018-19.
D’Arrigo says he wants to build on the accolades he received at youth level, saying he wants to become an important team player as well as getting individual achievements.
“Being able to win those individual awards gives me a lot of confidence, I hope to do my best for the team and win some individual awards in the first team now,” he said.
“They’re my goals for the season, so I’ve got to try and do my best for the team.”
Being part of an impressive midfield group, D’Arrigo, still just 20 years of age, believes the more experienced heads of Craig Goodwin, Isaías and captain Stefan Mauk has been valuable squad members to have around him to aid his development.
“They help me a lot, even then [during his youth days] they helped me a lot, and of course the other older players as well,” he said.
“They always give me advice and what I can do better or different situations if we’re playing with each other, after video sessions that we have they’re always giving me advice which is good to see they care for me and looking after me which is good.”