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‘I took an easy out’: How John Kosmina’s time at Arsenal came to an abrupt end


Socceroos legend, football pioneer, Sydney City hero, Hall of Fame inductee, one of the most feared forwards in the 70s and 80s.

John Kosmina occupies rarefied air in Australia’s football circles, an elite observer and analyst whose opinions pack as much punch as his aggressive playing style.

Kosmina can also claim to be the only Australian player to have ever suited up for top-flight English football club Arsenal.

Having made a name for himself in the National Soccer League, scouts from the Gunners ventured down under to see what the fuss was about before offering him a spot in the North London based club.

Unfortunately for Kossie, his time in the red and white was shortlived, playing only one league match before being sent back to Australia.

“I probably felt let down later on, at the time I took an easy out,” Kosmina tells David Morrow and Mathew Thompson on Heroes: Legends of Australian Sport.

“I probably had a fairly, well I wouldn’t say meteroric rise to success in my time in Australia before I went there, but it just flowed, I got into seniors at 16 or 17, then the next thing I was playing in the state team, then I was playing in an Aussie B side, then the senior team, it all just flowed,

“The thing which culminated in me actually getting to Arsenal was Australia played Arsenal at the old Sydney Sports Ground on a cold Tuesday night in June, we beat them quite comfortably and I had a blinder,

“The manager at the time, Terry Neil, had been out in Australia the year before, he was managing Tottenham Hotspur at the time and I had a blinder for South Australia against Spurs as well, so that’s how that whole thing came about,”

Kosmina’s experience playing soccer in Australia was a world away from the reality of being a full-time player for one of the world’s biggest clubs, and the move was more than a shock to his system.

“I’d had no real setbacks, and you have to learn how to fail before you learn to win, and Arsenal was tough, it was completely different,” Kossie explains.

“I’d been in a full-time environment playing for the Socceroos ‘cos you live in hotels during camp, but in terms of a full-time football environment day-to-day? I’d worked on building sites, I’d been to uni, I’d worked for Coca-Cola as a marketing type guy floating around primary schools promoting the brand, so life had been pretty cruisy and this was a complete shock for me,

“I should’ve toughed it out and I didn’t realise that until about 18 months after I got back and I thought bloody hell, I’ve wasted a good opportunity here,”

Click PLAY to hear the full conversation with John Kosmina: