At 21 years of age, Dean Bereveskos has more football experience than most veterans can dream of.
The central midfielder has come on in leaps and bounds since signing for Hakoah Sydney City East FC this season, but his progression is rooted firmly in hard work and a well-rounded football education.
A stint in Germany with Bayer Leverkusen and in England with Wolverhampton Wolves, coupled with five consecutive Golden Boots in the NSW State League Futsal competition and his first taste of senior silverware with Hakoah’s Waratah Cup triumph earlier this year has Bereveskos ready to continue his rapid rise in the stature of Australian football.
“It’s been a great season. I’ve learned a lot and I’m lucky to have such experienced coaching staff around me,” Bereveskos said.
“[Playing-coach] Gavin Rae has been amazing to learn from. Obviously he has a lot of experience from his career in England and Scotland as well as international football.
“Then there’s Alex Robinson and Zlatko Arambasic as well. They’re all very experienced coaches and I’ve just been lucky to be able to feed off all the information and guidance they’ve given me. Week in, week out I just try and improve things.”
The improvement has been noticeable.
Bereveskos spent last season playing in the PlayStation4 National Premier Legaues New South Wales Men’s 2 with Bankstown City, where he played 27 first-grade games. Prior to that he was a part of Parramatta Eagles FC’s under-20 set-up.
The midfielder perhaps went under the radar when Hakoah signed him up, but he has proven one of the signings of the season and he credits his improvement with the faith placed in him by the club to give him a free role in midfield.
“I don’t know if I can pin-point a single area of improvement in my game,” he explained.
“But Gavin has just allowed me the freedom to roam around the park and get up and down the pitch to express myself as a footballer.
“The reins are off now, and it’s allowed me to have that freedom in the middle of the park which has been good.”
The pay-off for Hakoah has been instant.
The club’s rise through the ranks of New South Wales football has been well noted. From the State Leagues right through to the state’s premier competition but even for a club that previously played in the now defunct National Soccer League, this month’s Waratah Cup triumph over the more-fancied APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC was a moment to savour.
For Bereveskos it was a night he will never forget.
“It was an amazing night. We had so much going through our minds in the lead up, but I guess we were the underdogs, we were away from home and the spirit of the team got us through,” Bereveskos said.
“The experience in the team helped. Obviously Gavin’s experience as a player coach was immense, but even [captain Neil] Jablonski was great.
“But I’ll always remember Gavin’s speech. The way he motivated us was amazing and you could just see it flowing through the change room.
“The club deserved the success. That win made us the most successful club in the Waratah Cup again and from since I’ve been here it’s been a great family club to be a part of.”
Hakoah has more to look forward too, with the Westfield FFA Cup still in its sights after the club’s unbelievable 6-3 victory over Hills United at Lilys Football Stadium on Wednesday.
“It’s a huge competition and it’s well known, so it will be different again from the Waratah Cup,” Bereveskos said.
“As a club and as players, it’s our chance to compete on the national stage and against the best clubs in the country from the A-League, so we just hope we can go as far as possible in it.
“It was an unbelievable match especially under the circumstances, Hills really pushed it to us but thankfully we came out on top in the end and are now through to the Round of 16 where we keep on dreaming about our journey.”
The youngster remains committed to Hakoah, but admits there is a part of him that is excited about what may be to come.
“The A-League is definitely a goal for me,” he said.
“As a youngster in the FFA Cup, I guess you could just be on good game against an A-League team from getting a chance and from there, who knows?
“But I just want to keep working and developing.”
-By Matt Galea