“It’s great to be back” – Keogh

Training October 2020 - Andy Keogh

“It’s great to be back.”

That was the reaction of Andy Keogh as the squad’s second full week of pre-season training continued as an early taste of summer scorched its way across Perth on Friday.

Now in his third spell with Glory, the club’s record A-League goalscorer went on to confirm that he is relishing working under his former teammate Richard Garcia for the first time.

“It’s a good atmosphere, a good vibe,” he said.

“The sessions have been good.

“They’ve been fitness-based; basically getting everyone’s legs going again and making sure that there are no injuries and that we’re all strong before the tough stuff comes along.

“For me personally, training has been slow and steady.

“I’ve not done a lot recently as there’s only so much you can do outside of football, so I’ve just taken it steadily, making sure that all the parts of my body are getting stronger and I’m looking forward to progressing nicely in the next few weeks and months.”

The past year-and-a-half has seen the Republic of Ireland international ply his trade in both Saudi Arabia and India and he particularly enjoyed his experience in the former where he linked up Al Qadsiah, a club based in the coastal city of Khobar.

“It was great,” he reflected.

“We lived in a compound and it’s a lovely city.

“Saudi has a bit of a bad reputation outside and, I guess, inside the Middle East as well, but when you actually go there, it’s a lovely place.

“It’s beautiful and the people were very friendly.

“Like everywhere, you have bad people and good people, but it was nothing but a good experience and I was actually pretty sad to be leaving in the end.”

He was similarly impressed by the standard of the football in what is one of the Gulf region’s strongest competitions.

“It’s slower in the summer because of the heat,” he said, “but they’re very sharp, explosive players there and it’s technically very good.

“Their top teams would be a lot better than any of the A-League teams and the rest would certainly compete.”

Keogh’s departure from Al Qadsiah, however, reflected what he feels is a systemic issue in Saudi football.

“They have all the facilities, but sometimes their mentality isn’t quite right,” he said, “and perhaps that’s because money’s no object out there.

“You can see that in all the teams over there.

“I scored ten goals in 14 games and we were top of the league and they just called me in one day and said that they didn’t want me anymore because they thought the midfield needed to be strengthened.

“So they decided to sacrifice me for a new midfielder and it was like off you go, next one in.

“They always seem to think the grass is greener and that’s why there’s such a high turnover of players there.”

A brief stint in India at North East United followed for the frontman before he returned to Perth and as he prepares to add to his 122 A-League appearances in purple, he also has a personal milestone looming large on the horizon in the form of Australian citizenship.

“Perth is my new home,” he said.

“I visited many times when I was a child and I’ve got lots of extended family here who are Aussies that were born here.

“My kids were born here as well and it means a lot to me.

“To finally become a citizen is a proud moment for me and my family and I’m proud to be part of such a fantastic country with such a good community spirit about it.”

The same can be said in terms of Keogh’s feelings about representing Glory once again.

“I never, ever wanted to play for another A-League team,” he said.

“I watched Glory in 1998/99 from The Shed with my uncle and I always said that I’d play for them when I came to live in Australia.

“A lot of people have come and said that they’re glad to see me back and it’s nice to be appreciated.

“Obviously I didn’t leave on my own terms and it’s great to have the chance to finish my career here at Perth and then transition into my next stage, whatever that may be.”