A product of City’s highly successful Academy, Ahmad Taleb was last week rewarded with a two-year deal.
Taleb follows in the shoes of a long list of former Academy products to sign on at City, and the former Fawkner Blues and Moreland Zebras junior is now more than comfortable at the Club he first walked into as a 14-year-old.
Following a standout performance at the 2016 National Youth Championships in Coffs Harbour, Taleb was offered a trial at City – ultimately being successful and joining the Club’s Under 18 Academy.
“It was a big step-up,” Taleb said.
“When you go from NPL as a kid into Melbourne City, it can be pretty daunting.
“Obviously you’re nervous and stuff but I think I was fine pretty quickly; it didn’t take me long to adapt to the demands of the coaches and the pace and the intensity of the training sessions.”
It may be a tough @ALeague squad to break into at the moment but there is no better place for young players to grow, develop and achieve that dream than City's Academy.
Director of Football Michael Petrillo explains. 👇
— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) April 27, 2021
As it has done for many young players, the first-class facilities and set-up at City Football Academy have been massive for Taleb, who had a simple response when asked if he’d be where he was today without the Academy.
“No way,” he said.
Along with these facilities, Taleb credits his development with the assistance of the coaches, who he said have always been second to none.
“The coaches we have at the Club are really, really, good. They help not just the player, but the individual.
“The coaches I have had around me have been very welcoming and are always wanting to teach you and help in any way possible. As long as you do those one-percenters, they’ll see those things and it’s just been a blessing.”
After years of hard-work and development throughout his time in the Academy, Taleb was rewarded with his first taste of A-League action at the beginning of this season – making the substitutes bench for City’s Round 1 and 2 fixtures against Brisbane and Adelaide respectively.
With Matthew Sutton getting injured on the eve of the season, the door was open for Taleb, and although he would only watch the fixtures from the bench, he said it was a great experience and huge for his development after a ‘really tough’ pre-season.
“When you get called up into those games, you get to see how everybody is preparing and you see the demands that the fans and the coaches put on the players.
“As a young kid, I was always going to A-League games and just thinking, ‘Wow, this is what I want to be a part of,’ so it was great to be there on the bench.
“I just want to help the team in any way possible and if I got to get on, then it would’ve been amazing, it’s the stuff that you live for but I just took it all in my stride.”
Although first-team selection may still appear to be a little way down the track, Taleb is in no way disheartened and more than happy to continue to work hard and bide his time waiting for an opportunity.
“I’m still only 18 but the goalkeeper union we have at City is really good and Matty (Sutton) and Tommy (Glover) are both exceptional goalkeepers.
“We’re all really young, so the thing is we all want it and every training session is always really good and we’re always pushing each other to get better.
“They support me and I support them, they’re both really good guys.”
In the short-term, Taleb is looking to continue to work hard and improve everyday, playing his part for the team wherever possible and waiting for his opportunity to come.
Long term though, he is motivated by one big carrot.
“Of course being the first-team goalkeeper for the Club would be amazing, it’s a dream of mine and that’s what I’ve always wanted to do.”