Three Academy Young Guns earn Australian representative honours

The Central Coast Mariners would like to congratulate Academy prospects Dylan Ruiz-Diaz & Mikey Katsoulis for their selections in the upcoming Young Socceroos camp. The Club would also like to congratulate Zac Waddell who will link up with the Joeys.

Ruiz-Diaz (18) & Katsoulis (18) have earned call ups to Australia’s under-20 men’s national team that will take part in a camp at the Australian Institute of Sport from Sunday, 28 July 2019 to Friday, 2 August 2019.

At the completion of the camp in Canberra, Gary van Egmond will confirm his 23-player roster for Australia’s participation at the 2019 AFF U-18 Championship in Vietnam.

15-year-old Toukley Gunners junior Zac Waddell has also earned selection as a member of the seven-player train on squad in addition to the 23 players selected in Trevor Morgan’s Joeys (Australian under-15’s).

Canberra-born-Katsoulis said he was speechless after receiving the call up.

“Ken Schembri scouted me from Canberra to come up here, so living away from home has definitely allowed me to develop quickly as a player and a person,” Katsoulis said. “I’m incredibly grateful to be selected for the Young Socceroos, I’ve been working hard and I’m ready to give 100 percent in this camp.

“I’d love to work my way into the A-League squad here. I’ve supported the Central Coast Mariners since I was a youngster so it’s a dream come true to be here.

“I wasn’t expecting the selection, then Matt Sheppard [Young Socceroos Team Manager] called me. I was speechless. Another dream come true,” Katsoulis said.

After making his Hyundai A-League debut against the Western Sydney Wanderers last season, Ruiz-Diaz says national team selection adds to his motivation for success. 

“It’s very exciting, I’m very grateful and humbled,” Ruiz-Diaz said. “As a footballer, you make a lot of sacrifices, so for me I’m really excited for this opportunity.

“To represent my country is an honour. As a footballer, you just want to keep chasing more success and this certainly fills me with more motivation,” Ruiz-Diaz said.

Now on the fringe of representing his country, Waddell, who has been with the Mariners Academy since he was 12, joked about being close to swapping his football boots to play rugby league.

“I started my football with the Toukley Gunners but I wasn’t very talented,” Waddell quipped. “My dad and I spoke about me swapping to rugby league but after watching the 2014 FIFA World Cup I knew football was the game for me.

“Watching Tim Cahill at that World Cup made me want to practice every day. That’s where my passion started, scoring a goal is the best feeling in the world.

“It’s always been my dream to put on an Australian shirt. It’s a big step in my young career so I’m looking forward to seeing what else it brings.

“The Mariners have developed me so much as a player, they have given me so many opportunities – every coach that I’ve worked with has taught me so much as a striker so I couldn’t be more thankful,” Waddell said.