In number three of our World Cup One 2 Watch series, Chris of The Equaliser Blog introduces us to Michael Zullo – a 21-year-old left sided player who recently made the move to Europe with Dutch side FC Utrecht.
Michael Zullo | 21 | Australia | Midfielder
Australia has produced its fair share of world footballing stars in recent years – Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill, Mark Schwarzer, Mark Bresciano and Brett Emerton all having made an impact at the highest level over the course of the last decade. But now a new crop of talent is emerging in Australasia, with one of the most exciting talents being Brisbane Roar’s (formerly known as Queensland Roar) 21 year-old left-sided midfielder, Michael Zullo.
Having been brought through the academy at the A-League club, Zullo made his debut for Brisbane in 2005 at the age of 16 and immediately impressed with his pace and tenacity in advanced positions. Able to play both as a left midfielder and at full-back, Zullo has shown himself to be an adaptable and intelligent footballer and has established himself as a crucial member of the first team at the Suncorp Stadium, recently being named as the club’s junior marquee player – a status which sees him become one of only two players at the club not to be bound by the league’s salary cap.
Recent performances, the majority spent on the left wing, have seen Zullo’s stock rise dramatically, the player personally turning down approaches from NEC Nijmegen and FC Groningen in 2009 before accepting an offer from FC Utrecht at the start of April this year. The Australian will join the Dutch side in time for the start of next season and will surely be looking to become the spearhead of a new generation of Australian talent making its way into some of the major European leagues.
Zullo’s good form has also led to international recognition in recent times, Australia coach Pim Verbeek calling the player into the senior squad last year to face Indonesia in an Asian Cup qualifier and again this March in the Socceroos’ defeat to Kuwait. Admittedly it is unlikely that the Brisbane player will be selected in Verbeek’s squad for this summer’s World Cup, although there is always an outside chance, but Michael Zullo is surely a player of whom we will be hearing more of in the years to come as he embarks upon a career in Europe.