Why I have to go to Australia - Wigan Athletic hero
He’s never been a fan of Neighbours or Home and Away, he’s not interested in surfing, and he may need a few lessons on throwing shrimps on the barbie.
But Callum McManaman knew straight away he wanted to seize the chance of a new adventure in Australia with both hands.
The 29-year-old – Wigan Athletic’s man of the match in the 2013 FA Cup final – flies Down Under on Friday to take up a two-year deal with Melbourne Victory in the A-League.
It’s something he’s had to keep under wraps for the last few weeks while the paperwork and visas were sorted.
But now it’s almost time to head for the departure lounge, he can’t wait to take a huge step into the unknown.
“Even though it’s been going on for a while, it’s still a lot to try to take in,” he told the Wigan Observer.
“The flight’s only just been booked, because we were waiting for the visa for a little while.
“But I’m going out on Friday, and all of a sudden it’s starting to feel very real.
“I’ve never been to Australia before, but I’ve heard Melbourne’s a great city in which to live.
“Every single person who’s been has told me how great it is, I’ve not heard one bad word which you’d normally expect from a few.
“And especially with everything that’s going on here at the moment – it’s so depressing – it’s great timing, I can’t wait.
“I got good vibes about it right from the start. I’m quite a decisive person when I need to be, I don’t mess about, I go for it.
“And I knew within 24 hours I was going to go for it.”
Sadly, given the state of the world in 2020, he won’t be able to enjoy his new surroundings from day one.
“For the first two weeks I’m having to quarantine on my own,” he revealed.
“I’m not really looking forward to that, I’m going to have to find stuff to do for a fortnight!
“After that the club is putting me up in an apartment for a few weeks, before we fly out to Qatar for the Asia Cup.
“My fiancee will fly out to join me then, we thought there’s no point coming out straight away with me going out to Qatar.
“The season in Australia doesn’t start until January, so I’ve got plenty of time to get ready for that.
“And I think with everything’s that’s going on – and the wage cap – more players might be tempted to go out there.”
McManaman spent time during the English off-season training with Latics – impressing and scoring during the thumping of Bolton – which fuelled rumours he may be in line for a THIRD spell at the DW Stadium.
Unfortunately, with Latics experiencing the nightmare of administration, the reunion was never really on the cards.
“Leam (Richardson) was brilliant to be fair, he rang me and said he knew it didn’t work out for me the last time (during the 2018-19 campaign), and I should have played more,” McManaman added.
“But he said with everything that was going on I should just come in and train.
“It wasn’t a case of, ‘We want to sign you for next year’, it was literally to just come in and train, and see what happens.
“Obviously I knew a fair few of the lads, and I just loved it – as usual.
“It was like being back home, and I was flying in training and flying in the practice games.
“That was when Australia came up, they were really interested and put the offer on the table – and Wigan obviously weren’t in a position to do anything.
“I’d have loved to have stayed around but it didn’t work out like that, it all happened so quick.
“It’s been heartbreaking to see what’s happened to Wigan over the last few months, it sounded an absolute stitch-up job.
“But the way the club, the players, the ex-players, the fans and the town came together showed the spirit of the club is still there – and hopefully there’s some good news on the way.”
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