WHEN Ang Christou was asked his views on Adam Saad’s trading to Carlton, the 1995 Premiership player didn’t have to be asked twice.
To quote the former No. 39: “I haven’t been this excited since ‘Kouta’ signed his megadeal”.
For Ang, Adam’s transition to Dark Navy furthers a connection which can be sourced to West Brunswick, when both were (and remain) next door neighbours.
“We’re talking a fantastic family and a fantastic bloke . . . they are all beautiful people,” Ang said of the Saads and the latest Carlton recruit.
“Adam has lived with his siblings and his Mum and Dad in the neighbouring house for the best part of 20 years and there’s a lot of unity in that group.”
Rewind to 2000 when Ang was nearing retirement as a League footballer and Adam was just starting out. How well the former remembers the moment.
“My first memory of him is when he (Adam) came knocking on my door,” Ang said.
“That happened a lot of times along the way and I never knocked the kid back. I always had a kick with him.”
In doing so, Ang caught an early glimpse of Adam’s footballing prowess - and did so again on his return to Australia after a five-year hiatus in Greece.
“I never knew he was going to make it, but I had a bit of a gut feel,” Ang said of his kick-to-kick companion.
“As time went on I thought ‘this guy’s got potential’. He was always really savvy, in weaving around the trees and snapping goals which were the driveways, and he was a long left-foot kick.
“He was a natural. I didn’t have to teach him how to bounce or handball. I have seen him grow, from a little kid having a kick in the street to a mature footballer playing AFL.”
Ang recalls Adam’s named being called by Gold Coast with selection 25 in the 2015 rookie draft, after the then Coburg Senior Coach Peter German referred his footballer’s talents to the Suns’ Senior Coach Rodney Eade.
“Peter German said to Eade: ‘Mate, get this bloke’.
As time went on Ang served as Adam’s sounding board of sorts – in some cases “a shoulder to cry on” according to Ang.
“He used to ring me a few times during the year,” Ang recalled.
“I remember he once rang me at 7.30 in the morning and it went through to the keeper, but I rang him back and asked ‘What’s up? Is everything okay?’.
“He told me ‘I’m getting harassed on the ground’ and I said to him ‘Mate, that’s a great thing’. He said: ‘What do you mean?’ and I said ‘if you’re getting targeted in the backline that means they’re respecting you as a player, so don’t snap because they want you to snap – let your footy do the talking.”
With Adam now turning out in Dark Navy, Ang, who thesedays manages North fish & chippery (and shortly North Pole gelateria) in the Northcote Plaza, has even greater cause to see his beloved Blues hit the ground running come 2021.
Of Adam he said “I just see him in me. He’s got that left foot, he can run off the flank and take them on”.
“He is, in my opinion, one of the most exciting players in the League”.
Only seems like yesterday that Ang peered over the side fence and caught glimpse of Gold Coast jumpers hanging from the Saad family close line.
“Then came the Essendon jumpers and now the Carlton ones . . . they’re everywhere,” Ang said.
Ang said that Carlton’s latest recruit was genuinely looking forward to this new phase of his career and building his reputation as one of the game’s great rebounding defenders.
“My only advice to him would be to follow the dream and love what you do,” Ang said.
“I asked him whether he’d consider wearing the old No.39 if ever it became available and he said ‘Nah mate, I think I’ll stick with 42 . . . but maybe he’ll help bring the ‘woof’ back.”