Tiatto mellows out

You dial Danny Tiatto’s number with some trepidation, not knowing what you’re going to find on the other end.

You dial Danny Tiatto’s number with some trepidation, not knowing what you’re going to find on the other end.

After all, this is a bloke whose combative on-field persona suggests his character lies somewhere left of the Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes cartoons.

Instead, you are instantly disarmed by the polite reception at the other end – forcing you to remind yourself how dangerous it is to form perceptions of a person based on what you see on the pitch for 90 minutes each weekend.

Tiatto is in the twilight of a career that has taken him from Bulleen, Victoria, to Switzerland, Italy and England and all the way to Queensland Roar – 25 international caps collected en route.

Time may have mellowed him or maybe he hasn-t changed at all.

“People do judge you on what they see on the pitch but I suppose that’s understandable given that’s all they’ve got to go on,” he explained.

“Those closest to me know what I’m like and that’s the main thing.”

These days Tiatto is one of the elder statesmen of Australian football, a position which allows him to sit back and, with some authority, comment on the state of the game.

He has some concerns but the good far outweighs the bad despite attempts from some ill-informed critics to unload on the Hyundai A-League.

“It’s still very new. It’s not like the leagues in Asia, which are our immediate benchmark,” Tiatto said of Australia’s domestic competition.

“They’ve been around a lot longer and (Asian Champions League winners) Gamba Osaka showed they are ahead of us at the moment.

“It’s going to take a good 10-15 years before our league is as its competitive best.

“At the moment it’s a very good league that’s only going to grow and improve.”

Tiatto, 35, plans to be part of the A-League for at least another 18 months – as long as the body holds up.

“I’ve played every game this year and physically I feel pretty good,” he said.

“I’ve put pen to paper to play one more year with Roar and then it will be time to hang the boots up.”

Tiatto’s run of consecutive matches is likely to come to an end this weekend, however, with a foot injury set to sideline him for Perth Glory’s visit to Suncorp Stadium.

That will leave the Roar without its two senior players in Tiatto and Craig Moore, but the former Socceroo can see the positive side

“It’s going to be a tough game but all the boys are raring to go,” Tiatto said.

“I won-t be there and Craig Moore won’t be there so it’s a chance for some of the younger boys to step up and do well and show (coach) Frank Farina they are worthy of a starting spot.”

As for Roar’s poor home record – a draw followed by four consecutive defeats – Tiatto puts a new twist on it.

“Every time there’s a home game people are saying ‘is this the week you’re going to break through and win?’.”

“All the other times I’ve said yes and we’ve lost so this time I’m going to say we’re going to lose and hopefully we will get the result.”

With that, Tiatto politely makes his goodbyes and heads off, one more person won over.