Alex Gersbach only has one thing on his mind for 2018: to go to the World Cup.
The 20-year-old returned home to the shire over the Christmas break to spend time with his family after he finished his second season with Norwegian side Rosenborg BK in late November.
The club won the Eliteserien by seven points from Molde to again qualify for the Champions League first qualifying round.
Gersbach made 25 appearances for Rosenborg in all competitions last season but made just 15 starts. That lack of playing time has been frustrating at times for Gersbach who knows he needs to play more regularly if he is to force his way into Australia’s squad for the World Cup in June.
Having made four appearances for the Socceroos, including impressive appearances in a vital World Cup qualifier against Thailand and at the Confederations Cup against Cameroon, Gersbach will be in the mix for Australia’s squad for Russia.
But the Sutherland Sharks junior told the Leader he had to be playing between now and June to make sure he was on the plane.
“Football wise it’s been a bit of an up and down year. Obviously with the national team I played two games and was happy with how things were going there and progressing. But back in Norway at Rosenborg I didn’t play as much as I would have liked this year or last year either. It was a little bit disappointing but that’s football. It’s just part of the ups and downs,” he said.
“If [playing regularly is] not going to happen at Rosenborg maybe they have to think about selling me or sending me out on loan. I’m not sure, it’s looking like something might happen, something might change in January.
“But if not then I’m settled there. If I’m playing in Norway at Rosenborg week in, week out I’ll be happy. But if not I need to be playing football every week and going to the World Cup.
“[If I move then] hopefully somewhere else in Europe. We’re settled there and I don’t plan on coming back to the A-League just yet. We’ll see what happens.”
Playing at the World Cup, the biggest sporting event on the planet, is the dream of most footballers and Gersbach is no different. Despite only just being out of his teenage years, the former Sydney FC defender does not want to wait until later in his career.
“Being a footballer I think the World Cup is the peak, the pinnacle. You can’t get any higher than the World Cup. That was my ambition being a footballer to go to the World Cup. And if I can achieve that next year when I’m 21-years-old I’ll be a very happy guy,” he said.
“This year everyone is going to be thinking about the World Cup. But you can’t let it affect you too much, you’ve just got to focus on your club team. If you’re playing there and playing well and doing your job you’ll get picked for the World Cup squad.”
Being a footballer I think the World Cup is the peak, the pinnacle.Alex Gersbach
Gersbach admitted he was surprised by Ange Postecoglou’s decision to quit as Socceroos coach just over six months away from the World Cup. But he is excited by a potential reunion with his former boss Graham Arnold.
“There was a lot of speculation and rumours about [Postecoglou] before the Honduras game. So we sort of knew something was going on. But once we qualified I think all the boys though he’s going to stay now, he’s going to take us to the World Cup. That was a bit of a shock, after we qualified that he resigned,” he said.
“He’s the one that gave me my debut for the national team when I was 19-years-old. It is a little bit disappointing to see him go. He’s been there four or five years and sort of created something, a foot print on the squad. Every time you went into camp it was the same, you knew what was going on, you knew your role in the squad and what you needed to do to help the team.
“So him leaving was a bit disappointing and a bit weird six months out from the World Cup. But he had to do what was best for him. And he did a great job, he really moved football forward in this country I think. We’ve just got to be thankful for what he did and wish him well.
“I’d be more than happy if Arnie got the job. He’s a great coach. And obviously he’s the one who gave me my chance at Sydney FC. So I’d be happy if Arnie got the job but it doesn’t mean anything about automatic selection to go to the World Cup. But if they’re going to go for a coach in Australia I guess he’s the number one candidate.”
If a move doesn’t eventuate Gersbach is happy to stay in Norway. His girlfriend has now joined him in Trondheim and he has bought an apartment. He returned home for his winter break at the right time – a week before Christmas when the shire endured a couple of seriously hot days.
But while he was happy to come home for a quick visit, he is adamant he wants to continue to chase his career in Europe.
“I really love Norway as a place and Trondheim in particular. My girlfriend has moved over there now. We’ve both really fallen in love with the town, I’ve bought an apartment over there. I love the culture, I love the way Norwegian people go about their lives and really just love the place,” he said.
“It’s been really nice to be home. It was getting a bit cold over in Norway. It was -6 [degrees] so to come back here to 35 degrees is really nice [and to] catch up with family and spend Christmas and New Years at home.”