Living up to Hyundai A-League marquee status can be taxing, but Western United’s Panagiotis Kone is ready to take the pressure in his stride.
Western United nailed their Hyundai A-League ambitions to the mast early on with the January signing of the experienced 31-year-old Greece international.
Those expectations have been amplified following the capture of highly rated Australian teenage trio Sebastian Pasquali, Apostolos Stamatelopoulos and Dylan Pierias on Thursday.
But Kone, a veteran of more than 150 Serie A appearances, believes his simple but firm leadership on and off the pitch makes him well-placed to lead the club’s inaugural charge and nurture the young talent which comprises the early build up of Western United's roster.
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“I’m a very simple person and player,” Kone told www.aleague.com.au.
“Expectations are very big but I’m going to do my best and help my new teammates and the club to make a new start and a good start.
I had seven years in Italy, I have participated in a World Cup and the Champions League in Europe."
“I trust my experience and my quality personally and as a player.
“I don’t think it will be difficult because I am very simple as a person.”
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The signings of Adelaide United striker Stamatelopoulos, Ajax starlet and former Melbourne Victory attacker Pasquali and Melbourne City fullback Pierias add to a strong complement of rising stars on Western United’s books.
And with Connor Chapman returning to Australia after a successful venture in the K-League, Sydney FC’s promising centre-back Aaron Calver signing on and Caltex Socceroos full-back Josh Risdon pledging his allegiance, Western United are building impressively.
“I think Western United is making very good movements and is mixing good players with experience with young players with very good quality,” Kone said.
Kone is likely to emerge as a leadership figure for the group, a role merited from his experience playing at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and alongside some of football’s household names in Serie A.
The former Olympiacos youth believes he can pass on a lot from his time spent in Italy's top flight.
“I played with big players like [Andrea] Pirlo, [Clarence] Seedorf, Kaka, Ronaldinho, [Zlatan] Ibrahimović, [Javier] Zanetti," Kone continued.
“They are a lot of players with big quality, but all my experience in Italy was wonderful.
"I improved so much as a player and as a person and I’m thankful to Italy and for the teams that I played for.”
Watch our exclusive interview with Panagiotis Kone on Sunday evening. Click here for details.