Socceroos star Jamie Maclaren may have spent the past 10 years playing soccer interstate and overseas, but Sunbury is still home.
Maclaren, who grew up in Sunbury, has signed with Melbourne City so will be playing in front of friends and family on a regular basis.
“It’s nice to wake up every day and know I can see my family face to face, not relying on a phone call,” Maclaren said.
“My parents still live in Sunbury, still live in Emu Bottom – a place where I started learning my techniques and basics of the game through my father. It’s nice to drive into Sunbury … it’s a town I’m proud of.
“I chose the number 29 at Melbourne City as the post code is 3429 and the 29th is my birthday as well. Sunbury is a special place for me.”
Long before becoming one of Australia’s top strikers, Maclaren started his career with Sunbury United and then played with Green Gully. He retains a fondness for both clubs.
“I always go back if I have spare time to go see the guys,” said Maclaren of United.
“I’ve been able to give back to the club. Green Gully has got a few financial rewards as well. It’s nice to give back to the clubs that don’t have the financial backing.”
Since his time at Green Gully, Maclaren went to Blackburn Rovers, before playing with A-League clubs Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar.
More recently, he joined German club
SV Darmstadt 98, which loaned him to Scottish club Hibernian.
Maclaren said he enjoyed his time overseas, including playing in his dad’s hometown, Edinburgh.
“To play in front of people he went to school with and to wake up every day and have myself in the back page, having scored against Celtic, scored against Rangers … they’re two of the biggest clubs in the UK,” he said. “It’s a proud moment for my dad.”
“I spent close to seven years outside of Australia playing football away from family, which isn’t easy.”
Maclaren said moving home to Melbourne was an easy decision. He said that ever since he left home at 15 to pursue his dreams, he had wanted to play professionally in his hometown.
“Melbourne City is only getting bigger … it’s a great opportunity,” he said. “The A-League is growing every year.
“For me to be able to do that in Melbourne and play in front of the home crowd, my friends and family, that’s important for me.
“City is a club that has ambition and that matches mine. I want to win silverware.
“I signed for three and half years, I see this as a long-term project. I want to be part of something.”
The move to Melbourne City is part of what is already a big year for Maclaren.
He scored his first goal for Australia and started throughout the Socceroos’ Asian Cup campaign.
Maclaren, who has now played 13 matches for Australia, said pulling on a Socceroos jersey was a dream come true.
“It’s always been the ambition to play for Australia and I’ve done that on 13 occasions now and I want to build on that,” he said.
“I remember being a young kid in my back yard, wanting to score and play for Australia.
“I’ve worked so hard to get there … probably the hardest part is staying there.”