From Sydney Olympic to the Olyroos: Mourdoukoutas' rise at the Wanderers

A busy few months for the Australian defender adapting quickly to the A-League

In a season of defensive instability at Western Sydney Wanderers, Tass Mourdoukoutas has emerged as a possible rock in seasons to come for the club.

The 20-year-old centre back has impressed across his seven starts under Markus Babbel to date - boasting the physique and mentality needed to make the position his own. 

While still in the infancy of his A-League career, Mourdoukoutas hasn't shown the usual shakiness of youth and is reaping the rewards of playing in the NPL with Sydney Olympic as a teenager prior to joining the Wanderers.

"Olympic was a good part of my development," Mourdoukoutas told Goal

"I was pretty young playing in the first team there - playing against men is so important because it’s one thing playing at a high level against youth players but it’s another playing against men.

"They’re more physical, better tactically and you’ve got to change the way you play as a team."

Joining Western Sydney in 2018, the defender initially found himself playing against boys again as he helped the Wanderers claim the Y-League title. 

But under Babbel, Mourdoukoutas has been given the chance to stake his claim in the first team and he's determined to make the most of the opportunity from the former Liverpool defender.   

"I think there’s still a long way to go and plenty more to see from me," he said. 

"The step up has been pretty seamless, obviously a bit challenging, but I’ve been prepared well by the coaches. Had a good long pre-season which got my body and mind ready. 

"The boss obviously, not a bad resume. There’s no better person to learn from and get advice off. Everything he’s been through as a player himself you can relate to him and he can relate to you more importantly. 

"No player likes to be kept in the dark with how things are, so when Markus lets you or the media know that, then it’s up to you to lift your game."

Tass Mourdoukoutas Wanderers

From representing Sydney Olympic, Mourdoukoutas could well find himself at the 2020 Olympics after playing a key role in recent qualifying matches for Australia's U23's.

The defender scored his first goal for his nation in Cambodia and admits it's hard not to cast one eye to Tokyo.

"It’s something all the national team boys are dreaming to be a part of. It would top them all and something we’d hold with us our whole life," Mourdoukoutas said.

"Overall, (Arnold) just said to enjoy the experience, it’s not every day you get to represent your country."

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The Olyroos held a training camp prior to the international break which ruffled feathers in A-League circles but for Mourdoukoutas the preparation was vital for a team given precious little time to adapt to one another.  

"You're with the same boys all season in the A-League so it is a bit challenging at first and I think that’s why the camp at first in Malaysia was so important for us to gel," he said. 

"I know we missed an A-League game but it was a big help."