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'We've got to be the best' - No excuses as Tarek Elrich wanders home

03:32 GMT+3 13/12/2018
Tarek Elrich
Five years since a disappointing departure, Elrich is back in the west and hungry for success

Unveiled as one of Western Sydney Wanderers first ever signings in 2012, local boy Tarek Elrich was on top of the world as he eyed long-term success with his hometown club.

Though the club's first season would be a fairytale success, it wasn't such smooth sailing for Elrich, who was released after the Wanderers lost to the Mariners in the A-League grand final. 

Five years later and Elrich is back with a vengeance - the Auburn-raised defender determined to prove himself and savour the chance to represent the area he grew he up in. 

"The first time I left I was disappointed, when I first signed here I thought I’d be here for a very long time - it wasn’t to be but I’ve got a second chance to be playing for my hometown club," Elrich told Goal.

"People are quick to judge you on one performance. Some people don’t see how much hard work goes into being so fit week in, week out.

"Now it’s about being back home and really enjoying playing in front of my friends and family."

It's been a testing transition back into the Western Sydney side for Elrich with the club struggling to pick up results early under Markus Babbel and the defender forced to fill in at centre-back.

Returning to left-back against the Mariners on Friday, Elrich admitted his time in the middle was a test but he's happy to make the most of his versatility this season.

"I think I’ve been a player here that’s filled in at left-back, right-back and centre-back...I even came on as a winger in the FFA Cup," he said.

"For me, it’s wherever the coach wants me. I did enjoy centre-back - it’s a very different position in terms of what I’m used to. It was a learning curve.

"Definitely enjoyed playing left-back more than I did playing in the middle."

During his first season with the Wanderers, Elrich got to witness first-hand the club's fan base blossoming at Parramatta Stadium but has returned to find them struggling as they are forced to juggle home games between ANZ and Spotless Stadium.

"Having started at Parramatta during my first time round, the atmosphere there was unbelievable and having the RBB support so close to the pitch just added to the atmosphere," he said.

"I feel those stadiums (ANZ and Spotless) kill the atmosphere a little bit but in saying that, it is what it is. There’s no excuses once you’re out there on the pitch, but we’re definitely looking forward to getting our new home and getting our supporters back.

"I speak to a lot of them and they aren’t happy with some of the pitches or the stadiums being in Homebush - they’re upset about that."

While the Wanderers face one more season without a proper home, Elrich has backed the club to reach new heights once they can call Parramatta home once again. 

"We want to be the best and we’ve got all the ingredients to be the best club," he said. 

"I just feel we’re just that little bit away. I think once we get our home ground at Parramatta - the new facilities are going to be state of the art - once we’ve got all that, there’s no excuses. We’ve got to be the best.

"Our youth system will be all as one. I remember in Adelaide we didn’t really have a youth system, so as a kid playing for Adelaide City and then all of a sudden you have to find that passion to love Adelaide United and play for them. Where Western Sydney now we’ve got a junior system, we’ve got heaps of kids coming through and those kids are going to have a passion to play for the Wanderers."

A passion Elrich himself won't be short of anytime soon.