Lee Is Back And On A Mission As Strikers Sign Three More

Nov 23, 2017 by

Star attacking midfielder Michael Lee has agreed terms to play his second season with the Brisbane Strikers in 2018.

Lee, 27, joined the club last year when already established as one of the top midfielders in the NPL Queensland competition and went from strength to strength at Perry Park, proving a dominating force in midfield while scoring eight league goals.

He heads another trio of signings as Strikers continue building their 2018 senior squad and is joined by two Strikers youth products in goalkeeper Tomi Mesaric and left sided fullback or winger Kyle Borg.

When asked this week why he had re-signed for 2018, Lee (pictured) nominated a mixture of club and personal reasons.

“There’s nowhere else like Strikers, on and off the field,” Lee said.

“The boys, and how you get looked after professionally – they have it all. There’s too many things that are in the right direction at the club. I can’t even think of a negative, to be honest. There was no hesitation or reason to even glance my head elsewhere.”

Lee said he had enjoyed his 2017 season with Strikers after initially struggling to hit peak fitness. But he felt he could improve in 2018 and he was not afraid to set himself some very specific key performance indicators.

“There are two things that I like in my football game. One is consistency. I always want to be around that seven, eight or nine mark (out of ten) – you’ll never play a ten because there’s always something to improve on. And the other is scoring goals,” Lee said.

On the subject of scoring goals, Lee said he was under strict instructions from an influential source.

“I’ve been told by my wife I’ve got to get double figures – or else she’s not happy”, he said.

Those instructions aside, Lee has his own way of judging his goals contribution and it’s not all about quantity. For Lee, his goals have to be the kind that help decide key contests and his conversion rate must be high.

“When we win 5-0 I don’t want to be scoring the fifth one. I want to be scoring the important ones,” Lee said.

“(For instance) if it’s 1-0 and I get one chance. As for my ratio of shots on target for goals – I know we are not fully professional, but I think in the English Premier League their ratio is one in two shots for the top strikers. So I’ll be a bit lenient and say one in three shots on target have to go in for me, otherwise I’ll be unhappy’.

Strikers football manager, David Large, said Lee was a key signing and that opinion was not based solely on Lee’s undoubted qualities on the park.

“He’s a fantastic footballer, there’s no doubt. He’s very skilful and good on the ball, but he brings a lot of other qualities with him,” Large said.

“He’s got a really good sense of humour and he’s fantastic in the dressing room. He just brings a lot of those qualities off the field into a club that’s got a mixture of experience and youth. He just fits the bill perfectly”.

Mesaric, 18, has been with Strikers for three seasons, beginning with his selection in the club’s Under-16s squad after playing for two years previously with Souths United.

Large said Mesaric’s ascension to full senior squad status was the right fit at this stage for a young player in whom he sees leadership qualities.

“Tomi is a boy that’s got a lot of self-drive,” said Large. “He’s the type of person you look for when you are looking for people that you see as club men.

“He’s got all the right ingredients with his determination, his commitment to the cause, his respect for the club and respect for other people.

“Technically I think he’s reasonably solid. He’s improved under (Strikers goalkeeper coach) Steve O’Connor, who has done a really good job with him and I know that he respects Steve a hell of a lot.

“I think he is ready to step up and I wanted to give him the opportunity to go to the next level”.

Mesaric said time spent around the senior team and the influence of O’Connor had been the keys to gaining his first senior squad position.

“I’ve only played one friendly game with the first team but I’ve been training with them plenty of times and definitely have learned heaps training with the players and from the coaches’ input into my game,” Mesaric said.

“Steve has helped me a lot technically – and mentally, I’d say, too. He’s helped me improve a lot as a goalkeeper and as a person.

“I don’t expect to be starting straight away, of course. I was signed to be the number two. It will be slow progress in trying to get game time with the first team but I’m going to try my best with every chance I’ve got and show the coaches that I can be there”.

Having only recently turned 17 years old Borg, like midfielder Joel Anich, has been brought into the senior set-up to fast track his development after catching Large’s eye last season.

“I think it was his ability to beat an opponent and, certainly in ball possession, cause defenders a lot of trouble,” said Large when asked what qualities about Borg had encouraged him to sign the youngster to the senior squad.

“That, and his ability to deliver the right balls into the area, made me look at him closer and closer.

“Kyle is an interesting prospect. We need to try and fast track him. Being a left-sided player puts him in a good position to be fast tracked, but it’s going to be a tough year for him. He’s a young boy that’s still learning his craft”.

Borg himself acknowledged that his elevation to the senior team had initially come as a surprise.

“Being part of the senior group is where you want to be and where you need to be if you want to be able to excel as a player,” Borg said.

“Especially because all the players are at such a high standard. I think they are going to push me to be a better player.

“Coming to the club three years ago I definitely didn’t expect to be a part of the senior group only three years later. I like that I’m starting to be noticed within the club, so it’s a good feeling.

“If I get a call-up to play in the first team then that’s good, but it will all come in good time. So I just have to be patient and keep performing at training”.

In less uplifting news for the club young defender Keegan Field, who had also agreed terms for the senior team, has instead opted to take a break from the game to complete an apprenticeship.

Photo: Michele Pitman

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