The name Eugene Galekovic may be mysterious to outsiders, but fans of the Australian A-League are firmly aware of his influence. So, too, is Pim Verbeek, who didn’t hesitate to call the winner of the competition’s last two goalkeeper of the season awards into Australia’s 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ squad, once Brad Jones was ruled out due to a personal bereavement.
It was the capstone of an admirable ascent for the man who will turn 29 on 12 June, one day before the Socceroos kick off their campaign against Germany. Indeed, for years Galekovic played semi-pro for Melbourne Knights, Morwell Falcons and South Melbourne, before signing for Portuguese top-flight side Beira-Mar in 2004.
Struggling for first-team opportunities at the club, he spent a short period on loan at FC Marco in the Iberian country’s second tier, before returning to his homeland with Melborune Victory in 2005. Although Galekovic pocketed an A-League winner’s medal during his two years at the club, he was largely used as a deputy to Michael Theoklitos.
This convinced him to join Adelaide United, for whom he has established himself as a key performer. Indeed his sharp reflexes and clever positioning saw him named the A-League’s best player in 2008/09 and 2009/10, even though his club were unable to add to enhance their trophy cabinet.
After impressing in the AFC Champions League, Galekovic made his international debut in 2009. He went on to make four appearances - when first-choice keeper Mark Schwarzer was rested - before earning that late call-up into Australia’s squad for South Africa 2010.