The text that drove Sydney FC to derby win
Photo Source: AAP
Graham Arnold has revealed the inspiration that powered Sydney FC to their thumping A-League derby triumph, telling of an extraordinary message he'd received the morning of the game.
Young cancer sufferer Gabriel Cipriano, who last October sat with Arnold in the dugout to watch the Sky Blues' 1-0 Sydney derby win, sent the coach his best wishes on Saturday morning.
The coach said the little boy's words galvanised his squad as they prepared to walk out in front of a record crowd of 61,800.
"I had a beautiful text this morning from a kid, Gabe, who sat next to me in the derby last year, who's got cancer," Arnold said after the 4-0 opening-round win over Western Sydney.
"He said he'd be watching the game, and that this type of result with a Sky Blues win gives him reason to live.
"I read that to the boys before the game, and you could see the hunger straight away in the players' faces, that they wanted to do it for that boy."
Left-back Michael Zullo described it as an emotional moment for the whole group.
"It was a bit unexpected. It's probably the first time I've had to deal with that," Zullo said.
"But it put everything into perspective.
"It brought us back to ground level and made us think about how lucky we are to be here.
"Not just that, how much of a difference we can make to a fan's day and their life by putting in a good performance."
Sydney were superb all over the park against the Wanderers, who made their visitors work but could not convert chances and were let down in defence.
Particularly impressive was the team's revived attack.
Milos Ninkovic, Filip Holosko and David Carney were all in rich form around Brazilian striker Bobo.
The fact that Bernie Ibini is still to come into the squad and bg-scoring captain Alex Brosque started on the bench only highlights Sydney's depth.
"It gives me good headaches ... just look at who we had on the bench," Arnold said.
"What I wanted in the off-season was to recruit two top players for every position, for them to push each other every day and work hard and fight for a position on the team.
"If they continue to play like that I'll keep getting more and more headaches.
"They just set their own standards, now they've got to keep doing that."