Taleb soaking up first-team experience

The life of a goalkeeper can be challenging at the best of times – especially for budding talents who are at the start of their professional careers – but Melbourne Victory Academy shot-stopper Ahmad Taleb has been working tirelessly with the A-League squad to prepare himself for an opportunity when it arises.

After becoming a goalkeeper at an early age after being thrown between the sticks in a school match, Taleb has never looked back, working tirelessly to find himself in the senior goalkeeping ranks at Victory.

Taleb made numerous bench appearances over the past season – deputising for both Paul Izzo and Matt Acton throughout 2022/23 – and the 20-year-old has used the past season as an incredible learning experience, using every opportunity given to him to become a better player.

“I’ve spoken to the Boss (Tony Popovic) and all the coaches here and they’ve been very encouraging and motivating,” Taleb said.

“The important thing for me is to continue to work hard, play well in the NPL and then the goal for me is to be on the pitch and help the Senior side in any way I can. At the moment, that’s my goal.”

Current Senior Men’s goalkeeper Paul Izzo has been a positive influence for Taleb in his pursuit of first-team football, providing wise words and encouragement to a player who is a teammate first before a competitor.

“He’s (Izzo) said to me, ‘if you work hard and you do all the things you need to do, you will get your opportunity’,” he said.

“I just need to be ready for when the team needs me. That’s the goal and motivation for every player and it’s no different for goalkeepers.”

Taleb has featured regularly for the NPL side in 2023, powering them to the top of the table with the fewest goals conceded.

His appearances have helped shape the Academy side and given them stability at the back, something he is grateful he can provide to the squad.

“The NPL season so far has been good for the team and myself,” he said.

“When some of us older boys from the first team drop down into the youth team, it’s important for us to lead by example and I think that’s what we’ve done.

“Obviously we were in the position like them not too long ago, coming up through the youth team and having to fight our way to get a scholarship or to make the first team.

“I think by showing my actions on the field, making saves and doing what I need to do, it inspires and motivates them to show what they can do.”

Taleb and his teammates will be back in action on Sunday as they look to continue to cement their spot at the top of the NPL3 table at Epping Stadium against Doveton.