From the time Francisco ‘Pancho’ Usucar first ran out in Adelaide United colours back in January of last season, the Uruguayan midfielder still finds it hard to believe how well he has been received by the Reds faithful.
From the time Francisco ‘Pancho- Usucar first ran out in Adelaide United colours back in January of last season, the Uruguayan midfielder still finds it hard to believe how well he has been received by the Reds faithful.
Largely unknown to Australian football followers, let alone Adelaide United fans, Usucar was signed to the Reds during last January-s transfer window for the remainder of the 2010/11 season.
Coming into a squad as a non English speaking foreigner more than two thirds into a season with the race towards the finals heating up, the pressure to perform and make an instant impression could arguably not have been greater.
Add the fact that Pancho is from a country that has developed a fierce rivalry with Australia on the international stage, particularly in regards to World Cup qualifiers, and it seemed an even tougher job to be able to win over the fans.
However despite all of this, no one was more surprised than Pancho himself when he returned to Uruguay for holidays less than two months later, having signed a new two year deal in the process, to reveal to his family about how well he had fitted into life in Adelaide.
“It-s crazy because in only seven games people know me and showed me the love,” Usucar said.
“I don-t why. When I went back to Uruguay I talked with my family and said it-s strange because the people showed their support for me and I felt that.”
“I am enjoying it (in Adelaide), it-s a beautiful city. The last season I enjoyed too. I came in summer and stayed in Glenelg and it-s very relaxing.”
Usucar made his Hyundai A-League debut in a baptism of fire against Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park back in Week 22, a game which saw the Reds emphatically end a long standing unwanted losing streak to their cross border rivals. Not a bad way to start off your career in Australia, and Pancho light heartedly suggests his record of two wins from as many attempts against the Victory may have contributed to why United supporters have warmed to him.
“I don-t know why, maybe because I have luck having won two times against Melbourne Victory,” Pancho jokes.
A lucky omen against the Victory maybe, but a more apt reason for his fondness among Reds fans is undeniably the passion he has demonstrated for the club. No more evident was this than in the Reds- elimination final against Gold Coast United at Hindmarsh last season. Pancho, who had sat on the bench for the full 90 minutes having not been called upon as a substitute, stormed up from his seat after the final whistle to remonstrate with a Gold Coast player whom he believed was inciting the Reds- crowd.
If there were any doubts whether Pancho is a team player who wears his heart on his sleeve, the renowned South American passion he showed each time he took the field for the Reds last season has squashed them.
“I want to play good first for the team, the most important is the team,” the 25 year old said.
“Of course I want to play good and work hard, but the most important thing is the team and to win the season.”
Due to the extended pre season and late October kick-off to season seven, Usucar is raring to go for his first full Hyundai A-League campaign. Such a long break between seasons is unfamiliar ground for the former Uruguayan U-20 and U-17 international. But although he is eager for the games to start, on the flipside the lengthier break has him and the Reds in peak physical condition.
“Last season when I first arrived here in December I just finished my season in Uruguay and not having had any rest,” Pancho said.
“Now with this long pre season my fitness is much better and I have had time to get to know my team mates better.”
“I had a good rest in Uruguay and have now had a good pre season, my body is feeling good and I just hope things are good when the season starts.”
Another bonus has been the added time Usucar has had to improve his English, something which has already come a long way.
“I feel that my first day here was so hard not knowing the language. Now I have been here seven months and my English is still terrible, but it-s much better than when I first came here,” Pancho admits.
“I can understand a lot more now.”
Do not miss seeing Pancho and the Reds in action. Adelaide United 2011/12 season tickets are available now. Click here to find out more.