Sydney Olympic centre-back Tom Whiteside has revealed consistency has been the secret behind his incredible breakout season and insists he can be the the best defender in the National Premier Leagues NSW.
It has been a breakout season for Whiteside who has become one of the rising stars of the competition, marshaling the best defence in the league as Olympic went on to win the Premiership in dramatic fashion.
The 23-year-old even had a moment of international notoriety this season with footage of his unbelievable ‘Scorpion’ goal from his side’s 5-1 demolition of Wollongong Wolves in round 10 going viral around the world.
For Whiteside, this year has been a chance to prove what he can really do after a rocky start to his time in the NPL NSW and he said it has all come down to one major factor.
“The biggest thing for me has been consistency,” he said.
““I came into a tough situation at Blacktown Spartans when I signed for them in 2016 and only last year I started to get it together playing my best football.
“This year I set out to really make the most of things and have really worked hard to be one of the first players picked on the team sheet each week.
“I have always felt I have the potential to be one of the best defenders in this competition but i just need to be able to show that over an extended period.
“I think it is just the little things i need to keep improving to help me reach that potential and hopefully go even further.”
Testament to Whiteside’s performances this season is that he has been the one constant in an ever changing Olympic backline after the midseason departure of George Timotheou.
“George (Timotheou) and I had a really good partnership this season but it’s important in football to be flexible and work well with everyone in your team in case, for whatever reason, something has to change,” Whiteside said.
“There has been a few little tweaks to my playing style to adjust to playing along side other defenders so we can get the best out of our individual strengths.
No matter who lines up next to me on game day I’m confident not only in my ability but that of my team-mates to get a job done.”
It has been this team first mentality which Whiteside says has been a big reason behind Olympic’s success, especially after the shock resignation of their coach only one week out from the opening round.
“We are a really close knit group and everyone is willing to fight for each other.
“Because of this mentality and hunger for success, it didn’t really matter that we had to adjust to a new coach so close to the start of the season.
“There has been an incredible atmosphere around the squad this year and we are determined to see how far we can go.”
There first challenge will be a fired up Sydney United 58 side fresh from an incredible upset win against APIA Leichhardt Tigers in last week’s preliminary semi-final.
“We are coming into this game full of confidence but at the end of the day it is a semi-final and anything can happen,” Whiteside said.
“Last week we saw the two favourites lost which was a stark reminder to us that we need to be on our game if we are to get the win.
“Sydney United are a very good team and will be coming to cause another upset.
“I think if we just replicate what we have been doing all season then we’ll be in with a good shot.”