Feature Article - Elio Marusic
Not even his wedding day could keep Elio Marusic from playing the game he loves. Having played soccer since a young boy in Salerno, Italy, his infatuation with the game and commitment to playing for glory continued to rise throughout his career. Spotted by scouts at 16, Elio went on to play for Cara Tirene before migrating to Australia with his family in 1951. At 21 years old, Marusic took up a position at Beograd, before beginning a 6 year stint with National league team West Adelaide Hellas. It was during this time with Hellas that Elio put his wedding day celebrations on hold for a couple of hours so he could play for the club and most importantly go on to score three winning goals. The time out from his wedding day did not weaken the union in any way and Elio and his wife Dagmar have enjoyed 43 years together. Having met Dagmar in the first week of arriving in Australia, Elio says it is amazing what a person can do for love. It took nine months for him to learn English and be able to speak his first word to German born Dagmar, and the couple now have three children, Marina, Natalina and Brenton. Elio reminisces about the early days playing soccer in Adelaide, when local clubs were trying to generate support and a reputation but with very little financial aid. Playing in what he describes as primitive conditions on paddocks, with change rooms half the size of what they have today and with facilities that just do not compare to the "paradise” that exists at Metro today. One advantage Elio does believe they had back then was the raw passion of their supporters, brought with them from Europe. The memory is still fresh of running on to a field, and the amazing feeling from, although not being able to see the faces, hearing the voices chant for their team. Perhaps one of his fondest memories is that of a friendly game he played in front of a 28,000 strong crowd, against Manchester United. The thrill of playing against the players he admired and exchanging shirts with Denis Law, a tradition that was not permitted at the time, is a proud and ever memorable moment for Elio. Marusic was approached by Metro in 1995 to coach the senior side, and in his first meeting with the committee he was asked what his aspirations were. Simply put; ‘to win whatever he plays’. Marusic’s adage for success is that if you’re not playing to be the best, there is no point in playing. While he admits he pushed his players hard, he says it was a tactic used because he knew they had the potential to achieve the high standard he was after. Elio believes the key in building the talent of a young player is in first building their confidence in their own ability by showing them the faith their coach has in them. In their first year under his guidance, the Knights won the championship and were promoted to Division 1. Having been a coach at Metro over 10 years for both seniors and juniors, Marusic has noticed that as the speed of the game continues to get faster, there is less time for players to think strategically. Yet he believes key players in any team are those who hold the potential to change a game in 3 seconds with the use of initiative and imagination. Marusic believes the players of Metro hold the potential to have this influence, if they are playing for the right reasons. For Elio, a good player will play because soccer is in their heart. They must first play for themselves, then for the team, and finally for the club. Even today a conversation with Elio on training nights or match days is continually interrupted by the many handshakes and greetings he receives from today’s members and his past players. This is a testament to the respect and status he has earned at Metro as his reputation remains firmly set as one of the clubs most influential coaches to date.