Still buzzing after his Socceroos debut in their friendly match versus Macedonia early Tuesday morning, 19-year-old winger Chris Ikonomidis told reporters his dream of playing for the Australian national team only came true due to the years he spent carefully selecting and timing interviews with football blogs across Australia.
Yet to make his debut for club team Lazio outside of reserve matches, Ikonomidis stated that all his years of training, commitment and sacrifice were secondary to the hard work he put into spreading his personal brand through numerous appearances on football websites.
“The number of eyeballs you can attract simply through playing good football aren’t enough to guarantee a call-up in this age of online exposure and player saturation. For me to break into the national team required a significant investment of time and energy in spreading my brand through prodigious use of grassroots websites and social media initiatives.
“Naturally I’m thrilled that I was able to obtain a significant-enough increase in unprompted awareness through this campaign to force the boss to select me, for fear of backlash from the football community.”
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou said he was thrilled with the effort young Ikonomidis has put into his self-promotion, saying he represented the start of a new generation of players selected for their embracing of the media as opposed to simply being able to play football.
“Tim Cahill you’d say was the pioneer in this area, but Chris has show that the next generation of Socceroos are beginning to show their self-marketing mettle, which is crucial if they want to stand out from the pack.
“I’ve seen a million kids play a million killer passes, but how many have you seen carefully manage their online presence at both the professional and grassroots level?”
Academies across Australia are taking note, with the Australian Institute of Sport already drafting in marketing & PR experts to assist their students in turning their attention away from on-field matters, in favour of honing their off-field marketability.
However not everyone is impressed with the young starlet’s pervasive online presence, with Kile Kennedy reportedly furious the #NoIkonNoParty hashtag vastly outstripped the #Justice4Kile campaign.