At the young age of 23, Keanu Baccus has already enjoyed a substantial career.
Stemming from his first appearance in the A-League Men’s, a 2017 clash with Perth Glory, to playing at the Olympic Games with some of the best young talents in the world, Baccus has proved his worth on the biggest stages present within Australian football.
Mainly playing as a central midfielder, in a deeper role or box to box, Baccus has impressed with a work rate that allows him to stay busy defensively and his clever reading of the game, which allows him to progress the ball forwards and consistently intercept the ball for his side.
He ranks in the 98th percentile for defensive duels and in the 94th for interceptions made when compared to players in his position, while is in the 70th percentile for progressive passing.
These qualities made him an easy choice for Graham Arnold when deciding on his Olympics squad, where Baccus played a part in all three games.
“It was an amazing experience for me, playing against arguably some of the best players in my age group around the world”, said Baccus in an exclusive interview with Kick360.
“It just taught me that anything is possible and that I need to strive to get there and become the best I can be.”
Baccus’ career, which has included 86 A-League Men’s appearances, started with Parklea FC.
He later went on to play with Blacktown City in their under 14s, 15s and 16s, before at the age of 15, Western Sydney Wanderers came calling.
Baccus, unsurprisingly, was singled out and selected for their youth team.
“When I first started training in the team, it was a massive difference in my life”, he said.
“It was around 16 or 17 where I realised that I should definitely do this, and want to do it for the rest of my life.”
His career did come with sacrifices, but they were natural for the young midfielder.
“I loved football, and I was always playing when I was younger”, he said.
“At that moment when I realised I wanted to be a professional, it was just natural for me to make sacrifices, like not being able to go out with mates.
Baccus spoke of his older brother, Kearyn Baccus as his main inspiration for playing football, and also Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero, as a Manchester City fan.
Keanu Baccus played with his brother for the Wanderers but also featured against him when Kearyn moved to Melbourne City in October 2018.
“We’ve played quite a few games together and just a few against each other”, said the younger Baccus.
“I don’t know whether we thought those kinds of things would happen when we were younger, but as we got older we realised it might happen in the A-League.
“My mum wore the half-shirt for one of the games, and it was all love but it was competitive and we both wanted to win.”
Baccus enjoyed a highly productive and successful campaign in 2020/21, playing 25 games under Carl Robinson – the most A-League Men’s games in a single season for him to date.
He scored one goal and created a further four, the solitary finish coming off a sharp shot from just inside the box against Wellington Phoenix.
However, it was his assist against Macarthur, a scorpion kick effort that lit up the A-League Men’s, which stands out from his other goal contributions.
With a miss-hit corner leading to an awkward ball, Baccus showed his class and quick thinking, improvising in an instant to change the direction of the ball with a wonderful backheel.
The audacious pass found the head of Simon Cox who was free in the middle to head it home from inside the six-yard box.
“The ball wasn’t probably the best from the corner, and I just tried to improvise and it worked out well”, said Baccus.
“It would have been better if it went in, but it was good that we got the goal!”
Looking towards the upcoming season, Baccus and the Wanderers first face neighbourhood nemesis’ Sydney FC, on the 20th of November at CommBank Stadium.
However, the midfield man won’t be available after he sustained a knee injury in a friendly against Wellington Phoenix, keeping him out for six weeks.
The skilful midfielder gives insight into the feelings of the players before the derby.
“You do think about it a little bit more, and you definitely want to win that game”, he said.
“You want to win every game, but that one means a lot for us as well.
“We’re all fans of other teams in other leagues, so we know what it’s like to have a derby game and the emotion behind it.”
The Wanderers, despite having had major success in derbies in recent years (they’ve lost just once in the last seven), haven’t made the finals in four seasons.
But this season, Baccus wants to help change that and is eager to taste success after returning from his injury, possibly with a first trophy.
“With the squad we have (at the Wanderers), we want to be in the top two and fighting for the league and the toilet seat at the end of it.”