Olyroos and Sydney FC defender Joel King has made a swift transition from youth team to first team.
Since breaking into the first team in 2019, King has not looked out of place for the Sky Blues, with the full back registering 66 total appearances in the past two seasons.
Following his two seasons in the NPL with Sydney FC’s youth side, King would become a first team regular in the 2019-20 season.
King credited the club’s academy structure which helped him make a seamless transition to A-League level football.
“The good thing with Sydney FC is that the formation they use in the youth team is the exact same in the first team,” King said.
“So it’s just getting used to the speed of play in the A-League.
“It’s just that one percent quicker and you have to get stronger to match the likes of players in the A-League.
“So the patterns and the structure of the youth teams helped me a lot.”
Though admittingly finding the jump from the NPL to A-League tough, veterans Milos Ninkovic and Alex Wilkinson helped him find his feet.
“At the start it was difficult. The people that were around me like Ninko and Wilko helped me a lot,” he said.
“Obviously they’ve been in the league for however many years before me.
“Wilko in my ear for 90 minutes of the games definitely helped, and in attack Ninko definitely has helped me a lot.
“Whenever I’m in trouble I can just give them the ball to do something magical and get us out of trouble.”
His first full season of first team football would be capped off in stunning style, winning a premiership and championship with the Sky Blues.
Kings reflected on his first season, saying he was grateful to be a part of the club’s historic 2019-20 grand final win over Melbourne City.
“I was lucky enough to win both a premiership and championship in my first year,” he said.
“That’s the biggest thing you can do in the A-League, it’s one the best achievements of my career so far and a very special time of my life.”
Though Sydney boasted one of the strongest squads in the league, King also says a good club culture was a key contributing feature to club’s success in recent years.
“It’s cliché and something we always say but I reckon the culture [contributed to success],” he said.
“All the players at the club are good blokes, the culture is good, coming to training is something that I enjoy it’s never a hassle.
“I think when you enjoy football and your surroundings it makes playing football much easier.”
Following an impressive two seasons at left back for Sydney FC, King was rewarded with a call up from Graham Arnold to be part of the Olyroos campaign in the Tokyo Olympics.
Believed to have been placed in the group of death drawn against Argentina, Egypt and Spain, the Olyroos exceeded expectations.
Though still finishing bottom of the group, the Olyroos secured a memorable victory over Argentina, while competitive in their losses against Spain and Egypt.
As one of the standouts from the Olyroos, King believes the Olympics was a valuable experience.
“It was unreal, playing for Australia is always the best thing you can do,” he said.
“To play teams like Spain and Argentina was really eye opening, some players for those teams were playing at the highest level and played hundreds of games in the top leagues.
“To see where they’re at and seeing the level they play at, it makes you realise what you need to do to get that level.
“It was a very good experience and I loved it.”
Though progressing as a quality defender for both club and country, King is still committed to playing out his contract with the Sky Blues, but says a move overseas is still a possibility.
“I’ve still got one more year with Sydney, so I want to do the best I can at Sydney and then after hopefully I might get the chance to play overseas.”