Bouzanis v Bouzanis: It’s the battle of the Goalkeepers

28.08.2017

Brother vs. Brother: The battle of the Bouzanis brothers awaits in what promises to be another magical night of Westfield FFA Cup drama when Anthony’s Hakoah Sydney City East meets Dean’s Melbourne City on Tuesday 29th of August at Leichhardt Oval.

On a quiet cul-de-sac in Dolans Bay, big brother Dean initiates a game of keepy-uppys with his younger brother Anthony.

They play for hours; until the setting sun bleeds a wash of orange and pink into the evening sky.

Above their laughter, they hear their mother’s cry of “dinner” ring out from the family home.

Dean races Anthony to the kitchen where the boys are greeted by their father’s warm embrace and the familiar smell of chicken schnitzel.

From a young age, Dean and Anthony Bouzanis have been united in their love of football. But the truth is, they had no choice in the matter.

“Dad wouldn’t even let us talk about another sport,” Anthony laughs as he recalls. “Discussions of NRL or AFL were banned at our dinner table. It was only football”.

Their father’s love for football and the impact it had on both Dean and Anthony has seen the family remain close, despite the distances their respective journeys in football have taken them.

“Dean left for Europe when I was just 10. It was hard saying goodbye to my best-mate but I really wanted to see him succeed”.

Back home, Anthony began to find success of his own, after following in his brother’s footsteps and making the transition from outfield to goalkeeper.

“I was playing centre midfield for Marconi and was doing ok. Then dad suggested I try a few goalkeeping sessions like Dean - so I did. I loved it. The very next season I went to trial as a goalkeeper - all my friends laughed - but I played well and ended up signing for Sydney Olympic”.

Anthony’s meteoric rise through the ranks in Australian football saw him earn a first-team contract at Sydney FC and represent his country with the Young Socceroos.

Now plying his trade in the PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s system with Hakoah Sydney City East, Anthony has his eyes set on a return to the Hyundai A-League and a possible European move one day.

“I’m a firm believer in establishing yourself domestically before moving overseas. My goal is to become an A-League club’s first choice keeper and if that leads to a European move or a national team call up, great”.

Equally impressive has been the resilience shown by his brother, Dean Bouzanis, through his turbulent tenure in European football.

Once described by then Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez as “the best goalkeeper in the world for his age” – Bouzanis never quite made the grade at Liverpool FC before eventually returning to Australia.

He has since found a home at Melbourne City and enjoyed a break-through season in 2016/17.

With Dean living in Melbourne plying his trade at City and Anthony back home in Sydney, geographic segregation has become frustratingly familiar for the brothers who enjoy an intimate friendship.

But on Tuesday 29th August, the footballing worlds of the Bouzanis brothers will finally collide in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16.

The magic of the cup has seldom cast a spell as special as the much-anticipated clash between these two brothers.

“Dean and I have been dreaming of this since the competition began. When the draw took place, I was watching it at home with dad. Our [Hakoah] name came out of the pot and when City’s name was drawn out also, I was ecstatic. I got straight on the phone to Dean; we didn’t even say anything, we just laughed. It was a dream come true for both of us”.

No other sport could provide fans with a narrative like the battle of the Bouzanis brothers: from a quiet cul-de-sac in Dolans Bay to the bright lights and television cameras of a knockout match in the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 of a major domestic competition.

Dean was enraptured with the draw and is hoping to claim bragging rights over little brother.

“It’s an occasion that doesn’t come around all that often and to be able to play against him and share this moment with him is a great feeling for myself but our friends and family too,” declares Dean.

But with the prestige of the Westfield FFA Cup rising like the price of a Sydney house, neither brother will afford the other any sympathy in this crucial clash.

“I’ve already told my teammates how to score against him – I know all his weaknesses,” laughs Anthony. “They’ve got one of the best teams in the league but we would love to beat them”.

It wouldn’t be the first time an A-League side has bowed out at the hands of a PS4 NPL NSW Men’s side - just ask Central Coast Mariners and Perth Glory.

“The gap between the NPL and the A-League is decreasing. Teams like City, Victory, Wanderers and Sydney FC are obviously on another level, but the best NPL teams in Australia can match it with the smaller A-League clubs”.

With the eyes of the Australian footballing world on this mouth-watering Westfield FFA Cup clash, many people will be wondering just who the Bouzanis family will be cheering for on game night?

“They keep saying they’ll be supporting us both”, smirks Anthony.

“But I’m very clearly the golden child so I know they’ll be supporting me”.

Whatever the result on Tuesday night, the battle of the Bouzanis brothers promises to be another exciting chapter in the rapidly growing and engrossing annals of the Westfield FFA Cup.

- By Ryan Latty