This week we catch up with a player who made a mid-season move from the Brisbane Premier League into the NPL and has been a major part of his side’s rejuvenation over recent weeks. Here’s more about Olympic FC striker, Ramone Close in this week’s edition of Off The Pitch thanks to Soccer World.
QSN: How were you introduced to the game and your first junior club?
RC: My dad gave myself and my two brothers rugby balls when we were young and I was always kicking it around on the ground like a soccer ball. My dad saw the interest I had for soccer and signed me up at the local club, Capalaba Bulldogs and I then continued onto Redlands, Rochedale and finished my juniors at Queensland Lions.
QSN: Tell us about your football playing history.
RC: I returned from Europe in 2013 and I found it hard adapting to the routine of a working career and playing football at Redlands in the NPL in 2013.
After having a mediocre season with them and a similar experience at Lions FC in 2014, I joined Eastern Suburbs in 2015. In that year, I received player of the tournament in the pre-season Silver Boot. I was also Players’ Player for the season and was in contention for the Gold Medal Player of the Year in the Brisbane Premier League.
I thank Stephen Glockner, Glen Brown and the lads at Eastern Suburbs for a wonderful 2015 season, I couldn’t have done it without them. I look forward to playing good football at Olympic FC and hopefully winning my first NPL Premiership either this season or in the seasons to come.
QSN: What opportunities has football given you?
RC: I would not have achieved what I have without the time, effort and support of my parents throughout my football career.
I would like to thank them because football has given me everything! I have travelled and have seen up to ten countries. I have met a lot of friends and have experienced and seen so much through my football which has given me the knowledge to give back on the pitch and off.
QSN: What are your greatest individual and team moments in football?
RC: My greatest individual moment in football was when I was selected for my country to represent against New Zealand, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
As a team it would be winning the Silver Boot competition pre-season tournament in 2015 with Eastern Suburbs. That was a highlight for me as we won and did so with a good bunch of lads.
QSN: You had a much publicised mid-season move from Brisbane Premier League club Eastern Suburbs. Tell us how the move came about and what was your motivation for a move back to the NPL?
RC: It was not easy leaving Eastern Suburbs mid-way through this season as we had a great team and were having a successful season.
Olympic’s start to the season was slow due to key players falling to unforeseen injuries and that provided an opportunity to join them as a new Striker in this year’s campaign.
The NPL has been dubbed the second tier in Australian football which leaves all competitive players with a decision to make and my decision was NPL in order to play at the highest level I can. I’m honoured to play at one of the biggest clubs in Queensland and look forward to giving back to my club and team through hard work, good football and hopefully a couple of goals.
QSN: Olympic are in red hot form with five wins from their last six starts and chasing a finals berth. How do you assess your team’s performances since you arrived at the club and the squad’s strengths and weaknesses?
RC: The arrival of myself and other players along with (coach) Terry Kirkham joining has definitely added a different element to the team. The lads have welcomed me and the new players into the team and we’ve done well to take to Terry’s coaching direction which has lead to recent success.
To be fair, the banter has been good and we’ve got a good mixture of young talent with experienced heads. With the direction of Terry and captains Danny Byrne and Matt Mundy, our sights are set on a top three finish and Grand Final appearance.
QSN: What are your personal goals for the remainder of 2016?
RC: Personally I would like to get a few more goals on the tally although my main goal is to ensure our team finishes as high as possible on the table for finals contention.
QSN: What are your long term playing aspirations and plans for life after football?
RC: Long term, I would like to play the best football I can for as long as I can. As a senior player I enjoy helping the young lads in the team, giving advice and passing on my knowledge to better their game and ability as players. Coaching would be a passion of mine in the years to come.
QSN: You are a very experienced number 9. What is your assessment of the quality of the young strikers coming through in Queensland?
RC: Number 9 is funny role as you are not just a typical striker. You need to be strong, cunning, mobile and a target option for your team.
You start off as a striker and become a number 9 as your knowledge for the game grows and as you pick up the “tricks of the trade”.
The quality and potential of the young strikers coming through is great although being a number 9 in Australia and Europe is a different kettle of fish. Our young generation of footballers need to realise that every training session and every game is a chance to hone their ability to read the game, outsmart their opponent, work on field positioning and to show people what ability you have to offer.
Being a number 9 is not only about scoring goals but leading from the front and being a solid option for you team up top.
QSN: Who is the best player you have played with or against in your career?
RC: I have played with or against a number of quality players. Craig Moore stood out the most for me during my time training with the Brisbane Roar as he was a seasoned professional footballer but also a great leader.
He was the type of player that would make minimal mistakes on the pitch and was efficient. He also played for the team but more importantly would help the young players, letting them know what they needed to work on, etc.
If senior players passed on more knowledge to young players more often like he did, it would make a very positive impact on Australian football because I know it helped me a lot as a player.
QSN: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions?
RC: I like to have my pre game feed then, have a nap before heading to the game.
QSN: Your most embarrassing moment on the football pitch was?
RC: I don’t think I’ve had too many embarrassing moments though I did cop a nutmegs or two over the years (laughs).
QSN: Time for 5 rapid fire questions! Your favourite drink, music, food, football idol and which football club do you support?
RC: Water, Rap/RnB, Italian Food, Ronaldinho and Barcelona.
QSN: Who is your most influential coach or main football influence and why?
RC: I’ve had a lot of good coaches and have been inspired by a lot of good players. My main influence would definitely be Ronaldinho. As a young lad I would spend countless hours trying to mimic Ronaldinho’s tricks and moves.
QSN: What do you do with yourself away from the football pitch?
RC: Off the pitch. I manage a recruitment/labour hire company which keeps me on my toes. Outside of work I enjoy keeping healthy and travelling.
QSN: Do you have a passion away from football?
RC: As mentioned, I am in the employment industry and it is a passion of mine to be able to provide people with job opportunities. Being Indigenous I also am passionate in regards to Closing the Gap on Indigenous employment.
QSN: If you weren’t a footballer, what other sport would you play?
RC: I started off playing my sporting career in soccer and boxing and chose soccer as I became more competitive. I would go back to boxing if I wasn’t playing soccer as I enjoy the training and art of boxing.
Thanks very much for taking time out to tell us your story Ramone and we give you best wishes that Olympic may continue that late season run to grab a NPL finals berth.
No game this weekend for Ramone and his fellow Olympic team mates with a catch-up weekend in the NPL. They’ll have to wait until Saturday week to see whether they can keep their momentum going against a Moreton Bay side also eager to see post-season action. Kickoff is at 6:30pm at Wolter Park on Saturday 23 July.
Name: Ramone Close
Nationality : Indigenous Australian
Age : 27
Nickname : Ram1
Height : 181cm
Preferred Position/s: Striker/Attacking Midfield
- 2016 – NPL QLD – Olympic United FC
- 2015 – BPL QLD – Eastern Suburbs FC
- 2014 – BPL QLD – Lions FC
- 2013 – NPL QLD – Redlands United FC
- 2012 – Poland 3rd Division – Drawa Drawsko Pomorskie
- 2011 – Belgium 3rd Division – Royal Racing Montegnee
- 2010 – A-League – Gold Coast United Youth team member
- 2009 – A-League – Nth Qld Fury training squad, Singapore tour
- 2008 – A-League – Qld Roar training squad
- 2008 – Australian U20 training squad
- 2007/2009 – Australian Institute of Sport two Year Scholarship
- 2006 – Australian School Boys
- 2003-2005 – Queensland Representative (Club/School)