Winning Edge Presentations Rising Star of the Month (Rounds 13-16) – Danny Charalambous (Moreland Zebras)

Moreland Zebras attacking midfielder Danny Charalambous has only made a handful of senior appearances at the club following his promotion from the U20s squad.

But his performances over the past month were so impressive it earned him the Rising Star of the Month award for Round 13-16.

The 17-year-old has a hint of James Rodriguez about his playing style, and has set his sights on tackling the National Youth League sooner rather than later.

FFV's Julian Trantino spoke to Charalambous about his fleeting career so far.

Congratulations, Danny. How does it feel to be named the rising star of the month?

I’m very privileged to win it. I’ve been working hard to move up from the U20s at Moreland to the senior squad, and to help the team get back to winning ways and move up the table.

You started the season in Moreland’s U20s earlier this season but have now started the last six games with the seniors. How has the transition been? 

It’s been great. The players have really welcomed me in the team and given me a lot of confidence, and they’ve allowed me to try to bring new things to the team.

Danny’s [coach Danny Gnjidic] helped me a lot, especially in terms of getting me into the senior squad. My position is the No.10 role, and he’s helped me to adapt to the game speed and strength of the seniors.

I think the way he’s introduced me to senior level has pretty much been the perfect way he could have done it. He’s given me a lot of freedom to express myself and give whatever I’ve got.

How did it feel to score your first NPL 1 goal in the win over Bulleen in Round 14?

It was a pretty good feeling. It was exciting, given the conditions as well. There was a bit of pre-game stuff with Bulleen – a bit of cockiness coming out of them and them writing us off before the game. We were ninth and they were second, and there’s obviously a bit of a rivalry between the two teams. To score in that game was an amazing thing.

After a poor start, the Zebras have now won five of their last seven games. What do you think has been the reason for the turnaround?

There were high expectations at the start of the season and we weren’t really living up to them. I think once things started going pear-shaped for us, we decided to play for ourselves and play for fun.

We’ve won five of our last seven, and I think a part of that is because a lot of the pressure has been taken off us. We’ve had a few come and a few leave too, so I think that’s been a positive thing for the team.

The squad that we’ve got now is one where everyone wants to win and play for each other.

Is there a footballer that you really look up to and try to model your game on?

Colombia’s No.10 – James Rodriguez. He’s a left footer, and I’m also a left footer. Even before he shone at this World Cup, the U20s coach at Moreland who I’ve had since I was little – Alex Cobo Arango – told me about him. 

He said, ‘this player, he reminds me of yourself a lot’, and this is going back to two years ago. I used to watch his [Rodriguez] video clips regularly and just to see what he did at the World Cup at the age of 22 was pretty inspirational.

Given you turn 18 later this month, how are you coping with juggling Year 12 and football commitments?

I made my move to SEDA this year, so Year 11 was my last year for VCE. I thought I needed a bit of a change in environment with school, as it [VCE] wasn’t really my thing. SEDA has given me a lot of time to concentrate on my football, as it’s not the same as regular school. 

Do you have any aspirations to one day play at the highest football, either in Australia or overseas?

I’m hoping that I do get an opportunity soon to crack into the A-League youth squads. Obviously it would be every player’s dream from here to make it overseas, but realistically that may or may not happen. I’d feel successful if I got into the A-League.

Finally, you copped a heavy knock against Kingston in Round 15 and had to be subbed off after just 12 minutes. How’s the recovery going and will we see you back soon?

I had a scan on that and it’s nothing major. It’s just a minor sprain in the medial ligament so I’ll hopefully be back in a few weeks and get back in the squad again.

The Rising Star of the Month is awarded to the NPL or NPL 1 player under the age of 20 who receives the most votes for the month from FFV's match reporters.


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