by Alan Ions
As a Heidelberg United fan, it’s impossible not to recognise the impact that Adrian Zahra, also known as “The Little Mexican,” has had on the club since joining in 2017. Not only did he take over the captaincy after the retirement of Luke Byles and the departure of Ruben Way, but he was also a key player during the club’s unprecedented run of seven championships/cups from 2017-2019.
Under the leadership of the legendary coach George Katsakis, Heidelberg United enjoyed a period of sustained success that will go down in the history books. However, as with all great teams, there comes a time when key players retire or move on, leaving behind a void that needs to be filled. In the case of Heidelberg United, this meant finding a new captain to lead the club through a period of change.
Fortunately, Adrian Zahra was more than up to the task. Despite the challenge of filling the shoes of Luke Byles and Ruben Way, he has held the ship together during a time of transition for the club. The retirement of club greats such as Byles, Doumbalis, Way and Pace, which collectively represented a loss of over 700+ games of experience for the club.
One of the most remarkable things about Adrian Zahra’s tenure at Heidelberg United is that he has been able to lead the club through this period of change while still performing at a high level on the pitch. Along the way, he has also been closing in on a significant milestone: 200 club games. Along with Sean Ellis, who is just 10 games shy of the milestone, Zahra is set to join an exclusive club of players who have played 200 or more games for Heidelberg United.
This is no small feat, as only 15 players have achieved this record in the club’s history. Zahra and Ellis will be joining the likes of Jeff Olver, Theo Selemidis, Luke Byles and Alan Scott to name a few , all of whom have left an indelible mark on the club.
Senior Men’s 200 + Games
Of course, the past few years have been challenging for everyone, including footballers. The Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the world of sport in ways that we could never have imagined, leading to two years of non-competitive football (2019-2020). For many players, this meant missing out on some of their best years, and some even chose to retire early.
Luckily for Heidelberg United Adrian Zahra was not among them. He saw Covid-19 out, and like many of us, was pleased to see him play football again. As he approaches the milestone of 200 club games, it’s clear that his dedication to the club and his passion for the sport are as strong as ever.