When Kick360 links up with Romain Amalfitano on a Zoom call, the first thing he does is preemptively apologise for his lack of English. There’s absolutely no need as the Frenchman is perfectly coherent, but it’s endearing nonetheless.
It’s been a great start to 2022-23 for Western Sydney Wanderers, with three wins in five games. Despite a disappointing loss at home to Central Coast Mariners, in which they were well beaten, there’s finally hope among the fan base.
Marko Rudan has assembled a strong squad in Parramatta and Amalfitano believes there’s big things to come.
“I’m not afraid to say it, I want to win,” he declares.
The midfielder was a key recruit for Rudan over the off-season. Rudan personally called him and laid out his plans for the season, and also stressed the importance of family.
“I hadn’t watched many A-League games, but as you know there have been some French players before in the league,” he explains.
“I arrived in Australia because the boss called me, I think it was during February, and we spoke a lot about how football in Australia is working here. I exchanged a lot with him.
“I’m here in Australia because of how we spoke about Australia and the A-League. When I was on the phone with him (it was all about) football and family. At first it was about family, and then about football – what he expects from me.”
It’s no secret the Wanderers have struggled since the halycon days when Tony Popovic was the manager, the RBB was heaving and Western Sydney were winning trophies at the old Pirtek Stadium.
But three wins and a draw in their opening five fixtures sees them firmly entrenched in the top six.
And as Amalfitano alludes to, success is back on the agenda at CommBank Stadium. In pre-season the squad, encouraged by Rudan, built a strong bond in a tough training camp to prepare for the season ahead.
His central midfield partner, Calem Nieuwenhof, has also been on fire so far.
“We work hard together and as a unit,” he says.
“It doesn’t matter if we miss something, we all work together and we have a lot of cohesion in this team.
“I love playing with (Nieuwenhof). He’s young and clever also. For me, he’s a fantastic player. He understands football, and he also does the job defensively. He’s a smart player. I think in the future he’s going to be a really good player for Australia.”
Asked to look into the crystal ball, the Frenchman reveals he doesn’t like to plan too far ahead. But life is good in the Harbour City, he says, and his family have adapted well to their new lifestyle.
“I am not the guy who plans everything. I live day-to-day, so I don’t plan to move or stay (at Wanderers),” Amalfitano says.
“I signed for one year here, and I want to stay of course in this team, but let’s see how the season goes.
“I want to win with my team, but let’s see what’s going to happen. I hope we will win something, and after that we can plan to stay in Sydney. It’s a fantastic club and my family are really enjoying it here. I could stay (for) many years here without a problem.”