Shot at silverware means everything to ‘Kiwi Messi’

The man they call “the Kiwi Messi” has won plenty of plaudits during his time in the A-League, but no prizes.

Marco Rojas, Melbourne Victory’s skilful winger, has been judged the league’s young player of the year, won the Warren Medal as player of the year and been in the PFA’s team of the year – all for his exploits in the 2012-13 season.

He was also named the Oceania player of the year in 2012 for his performances with the New Zealand national team.

But his best season in an A-League career that began with Wellington Phoenix in 2009 and has involved two spells with Victory was in 2013, when Victory were beaten 1-0 by eventual champions Central Coast Mariners in a semi-final.

So when Rojas is asked what this weekend’s semi-final against Brisbane Roar means to him, it’s hardly a surprise when he says “everything”.

“Everyone knows that it’s elimination [for the loser]. You have got to give everything you have to win the game … I am just going to enjoy this week, enjoy the game. It’s not often that you get to play in games like this.

“I have only played in one semi-final since I have been in the A-League. To get another chance of that at home is something I am very much looking forward to.”

Rojas has rebooted his career with his return to Victory this season after a lean period in Europe, where a move to Stuttgart (then in the Bundesliga) did not work out.

He is certainly happy at AAMI Park, and though he might not have generated as many headlines as in his breakout season four years ago, the 25-year-old believes he is a more complete player and is putting in performances just as good as in that campaign.

Winning the A-League with Victory would be the icing on the cake.

“For me, it would rank very highly,” he said. “I have only won one tournament and that was with the national team, the Oceania Nations Cup.

“In my club career I have not been lucky enough to win anything yet, so for me it’s a very important couple of weeks too, so I am looking forward to it.

“It was a very difficult situation towards the end in Europe, but I do think I am in a better position now. I have had a good season so far, but hopefully there are two more games left.

“I am happy with the decision I made [to return] and happy with where I am at the moment.

“I am not a big one for comparing years, but I do think this year has been pretty good. I do think I am a better player than I was back then. The small things in football I have learnt, with experience and being over in Europe with a lot of good players, [have made a difference]. I have matured a bit both on and off the pitch and I am happy with that.” A-LEAGUE SEMI-FINALS


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