Perhaps it’s no coincidence that our illustrious goalkeeper and King Koopa Bowser from the Super Mario franchise share a namesake. Bowser is formidable, commanding and virtually unstoppable. Much like our Captain, Eugene Galekovic, who celebrates his 250th appearance at Adelaide United Football Club.
And what a time to reflect on such a stellar achievement. The success of the squad in recent times has not been an accident when his gloves are made of glue, and his commitment not questioned. He can pick them out of the top corner, and frighten the most clinical striker into making the simplest of errors. He’s the voice, the identity, and the driving force behind our rise to the summit of the Hyundai A-League table.
For Eugene, it is difficult to pick any one moment that defines his Adelaide United career. There is however, one season that particularly resonates with him. It was when the ‘Original Rivalry’ reached boiling point; when the Reds finished on the exact same point tally as Melbourne Victory in the 2008/09 season, and excelled in Asia simultaneously.
“I remember it so vividly because we were the underdogs the entire time, especially throughout our ACL campaign,” he said.
“But the further we went, the more memorable it became – the quarter-final became the semi-final, and the semi-final suddenly became the grand-final – it was incredible how far we went.”
Eugene has displayed professionalism in every aspect of his nine-year tenure at the club, demanding respect and discipline both and off the pitch. His tall, looming figure, often at odds with his composed and kind personality, has made for an inspirational leader in all aspects.
He has earned his right to be Adelaide’s number one, and the player with the club’s leading appearance record. It seems that Adelaide and Eugene were always the perfect fit.
“I really enjoyed Adelaide from the minute I arrived because it just felt like home, and it’s only gotten better as time has passed,” he said.
“I wasn’t playing much prior to my arrival at the club and the opportunity to be at United came at a great time in my career.
“You never really know how many games you’ll put in at a club, but to reach such a big milestone of 250 games here at Adelaide United has been phenomenal for me.”
His personal career-defining save was the one he made on Australia’s own Josh Kennedy against Nagoya Grampus. The scores were locked at 0-0 and a result was required for progression to the quarter-finals of the ACL. Kennedy rose for the header unmarked, but Galekovic’s insane reflexes enabled him to dive low and block a sure goal. The Reds went on to win the match 1-0 and continue their surge for the trophy.
Galekovic had a message of gratitude for the fans on his special night.
“Over the years each of you have shown incredible support and I know that you will keep it coming for the rest of this season, and beyond,” he said.
“You guys are the best in the country and hopefully we can win more trophies together.”
I bet in each one of those 250 appearances, there will be at least one moment he was surely beaten, only to rise with that critical palm or fist to keep his team in the game.
So, while comparing Eugene Galekovic to a villain at the beginning of this article, if only for their leadership and charismatic qualities, there is no doubt that he is truly one of the greatest heroes ever to do battle as a Red.
Be there with Eugene as we celebrate his 250th apperance for the Reds at Coopers Stadium against Melbourne City on Friday, 11 March. Kick-off is at 7.10pm ACDT.