AS Saint-Etienne : Florent Indalecio conquers Australia | ASSE News

Florent Indalecio has an atypical background. Fired from the ASSE training center at age 15 for behavioral problems, seriously affected by a benign knee tumor a year later, then left to try his luck in football in the United States as soon as the majority obtained, whoever scoured the clubs in the Loire led his life until he landed in Australia last year. A construction worker, he also relaunched himself in football by signing for an Australian fifth division team. An obligatory stage for this 23 year old young man who dreams of playing more, much higher.

“I was a rowdy and cheeky student”

You are recruited by ASSE when you are very young and it is not going as it should be. Why ?

I was playing at ASPTT and I remember we had a hell of a team. We always reached the final of the tournaments and we sometimes won them against Saint-Etienne. I was recruited by ASSE but it was not going well for me at Tezenas Dumoncel (Groupe Scolaire partner of ASSE). I had bad behavior, I was a rowdy and cheeky student. I was fired from the center two weeks before the end of the course. The coaches did not want to keep me, football was not enough. I was too young, and at that time I didn’t realize it.

A serious event then marked your journey.

I had to sign at the Saint-Etienne Olympique in 16 feds but I finally left for Andrézieux. I was playing with a knee brace at the time, but I didn’t know what I had so I kept practicing. I’m not someone who complains a lot so I was dealing with the pain and the X-rays didn’t diagnose anything until the day I did an MRI. I have been diagnosed with a benign knee tumor, something that happens to one in 100,000! I was plastered for a month and a half with my leg bent. I lost all the muscle, I had to start from scratch once this was done. With six months of physiotherapy with two sessions a day, I managed to come back quickly enough. To fully concentrate on football, I ended up stopping lessons after the third and I started playing indoor sports to gain a lot of volume. I gained thirteen or fourteen kilos in a year.

“I told myself that if he could have done it, I could too”.

You manage to try your luck in the United States. Tell us !

I’m going through Cote Chaude, l’Etrat and back to Andrézieux. I then leave for Miami for a “Try Out”. These are tests with 200 or 300 players. I was 18 at the time in January 2016 and I had managed to be caught in the fifteen or so successful guys. I’m going back to France and the Red Star where my friend Fousseni Diwara was staying allowed me to train with the U19s so that I would be in good shape before going back to Florida. Once there, we are in exceptional conditions but I get tendonitis in the knee and I don’t play the first game. Then it was complicated to come back. The others, and in particular the French who were with me, touched unemployment in the United States. Me, I was only eighteen years old and there were only premiums so it was difficult to live. I decided to go back to France overnight. And I signed at Saint-Chamond in DHR which gave me a small fix.

After that ?

I quit football for a year and I started to work. One evening, while surfing late on Instagram, I see that a former Cuban teammate met in Miami, Franck Lopez, posts his signature to the LOS Angeles Galaxy with the reserve team. They play in the second professional division, where Didier Drogba notably went. My colleague was a good player, but I told myself that if he could have done it, I could too. So I’m coming back to soccer in Hauts Lyonnais, and I’m working to save some money for my departure. But I make the mistake of telling the president that I might leave in December. Suddenly, he refused to give me a small fixed. The coach of the day, Fred Marcon, loved me. But compared to my one-year layoff and the fact that I was going to leave, I only played one match in two or even three.

“We ended up sleeping on a girl’s sofa for several days”

How is this second phase of testing going in the USA?

Frankly, I didn’t go there to enjoy Los Angeles. I was very determined and showed great things in the friendly matches played while having statistics. But my three goals and two assists weren’t enough to keep me.

You are now in Australia at 23 years old. What a way!

I didn’t really know what to do, I didn’t have a club anymore. A friend went to Australia to work in construction in the building. I joined him, it was not easy at first. I lived with him, but we had to move quickly and we ended up sleeping on a girl’s sofa for several days. I had two weeks to find a job and wanted to try to make a good living. I also joined a company that works in the building industry.

What about football?

The season starts in March and I arrived last April. I had to make money so I focused on work. I still tried out NPL2 clubs (3rd division) who wanted to sign me, but my Working Holiday visa prevented me from doing so. They are only allowed to sign two foreign players and the quotas were already filled. They told me to come back the following year but I left that aside to continue my work in the building. It turns out that the brother of my French friend in Australia plays in a club in NPL4 (fifth division) and pushed me to come to train. They can sign as many foreign players as they want. So I joined Fraser Park FC, a Portuguese structure in Sydney with a cosmopolitan workforce. We have French, Croats, Argentines, Portuguese… The level is lower but you are better paid than in France while football is not the number one sport in the country.

“In Australia, your remuneration can quickly change”

Like amateur players in France, you combine football and work.

Indeed, but in Australia, your remuneration can quickly change. I started at $ 25 an hour in the building to get to 32.50. The pace is 5 days of work and we get paid $ 1,300 a week. As for football, it’s only two training sessions per week for an equally weekly salary of 450 Australian dollars. And the victory bonuses are beautiful! When you add it all up, your wages go up to around 4,000 euros a month. Then, if I start to evolve higher, I will no longer be able to reconcile football and work in relation to the level requirement. And so I may not be as much of a financial winner. It’s a choice to make, but what I’m doing today requires coaling as we say (smile).

“You cannot allow yourself to dream without having proved”

How do you envisage the future?

The goal is to pull it all out this year and then sign for a better club. The ideal would be to sign in NPL2 or NPL1. I’m not aiming for something crazy, I’d like to pass a course before dreaming of A-League (Australian first division). You cannot allow yourself to dream without having proven. I managed to make a lot of contacts here, former professionals. But I don’t have a video so it’s hard to show off. And it’s not going to be easy because it plays very, very physical with long balls in front then duels. My football is not like that, I will have to adapt to their conception of sport. I would like to be able to climb the ladder in Australian football and obtain resident status or even a “visa player”. With that, don’t worry! Just having to kick the ball is more fun (smile).

Do you encourage other players to follow your risk taking?

Of course, but you have to have a sacred mind. It is all a question of motivation, of determination. I’m trying to motivate a few friends who play in R1 or R2 in France and who would have the level to play in Australia in my opinion. I am ready to do everything for them to welcome them as well as possible. Some are not warm to come, I can understand it too since we are 17,000 km from France. These are sacrifices to be made but which can end up paying. Why would it go well for me and not for others?

Florent Indalecio’s Fraser Park FC have played two league games (a 1-1 draw, a 1-0 win). The Australian Federation, however, has just suspended all football championships until April 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic.