Steve: This is Steve from Calibre Fitness talking with Australian soccer up-and-comer, Sam Gallagher. How's it going Sam?

Sam: Good thanks mate

Steve: That's good. Sam, what is your typical daily routine?

Sam: Well, when I was full-time training with Melbourne Victory, a normal day would be getting up around 7:30am to be at training at about 8 o'clock. We'd do pre-training gym stuff, all immobilising exercises to get us loosened up for training, then a short gym routine from 8:30-9:30, get screened by all the physios and docs before we head out to training. Then it's a pretty intense, minimum 70 minute session in the morning from about 10. We come back in and have lunch, go to the ice baths and do a bit of recovery in the pool. Go out to lunch for about an hour or so and have a bit of a break, a few of the boys would get massages or treatment from the physio if they needed it. Then we'd head into the gym for an afternoon session from about 2pm onwards, generally either a strength or cardio related exercise for an hour to an hour and a half.

Steve: That's a pretty full-on day!

Sam: Yeh, That's a double session day, but we'd have that maybe 2-3 times a week and then leading into the games we'd just have a morning session then recovery in the afternoon.

Steve: Yep, sure. How do your training sessions differ during the season to off-season?

Sam: So, pre-season for us is the toughest time. That's when we're coming off our off-season and trying to get fit for the season. So that was really a tough period that we had. Every Tuesday we'd have a conditioning session and we always had to give RPE's which is rating the perceived exertion of a session, so it was about a 9 or a 10 every Tuesday and every Saturday we'd also do a conditioning session or a game. Throughout the week we'd do a lot of stuff in the gym and out in the park at a quite high intensity throughout the pre-season. Then as we come into the season it's all about tapering it to try to handle the game loads, depending how many times we play, whether it's once a week or three games over a two week period, so that's just keeping us fit. So throughout the season this year with Melbourne Victory we still trained quite hard on a Tuesday to try to emulate the impact of an overseas team where you play two games a week. Then as we wind down towards the end of the season it's really all just about tapering off and giving everyone some rest and recovery time before we have to start again and slowly build back into it in pre-season.

Steve: Yep, sure. Is there any specific strength training you do for soccer?

Sam: Yeh, we actually do quite a lot of stuff in the gym. When we first got in there this season we each got individual programs depending on individual specific needs, so positions that we played or role that we had in the team. As a defender, me and some of the other boys had programs quite similar to each other, so we'd do our sessions together and do a lot of power exercises for strength, then just some exercises for pace and muscle loading so we'd be able to get through the sessions and the games looking after ourselves and some of the other smaller players who needed to be fast and agile would do exercises relating to that, like ladder work or fast exercises with less weight because they didn't really need to bulk up. So that's pretty much what we did throughout the year, in pre-season we did a lot of cardio in the gym or repeated sprints or repeated exercises, an example would be maybe a circuit of 10 chin-ups, 10 pull-ups, 10 squats or 10 bar pull-ups on the ground, do 3 sets of that then go onto another exercise. So it differed throughout the year, during the season it's probably just a bit more about looking after your muscles and not going crazy in the gym, but in the pre-season it was quite intense.

Steve: Absolutely. Obviously diet and nutrition is an important part of any athlete's daily routine. How is your diet and how important do you see it for yourself?

Sam: Yeh, I think it's very important. Each club that I've played at, they've really focussed on diet and nutrition, getting various people in to speak to us about what we should be eating and what we should be avoiding. But, I think it's just about what feels right. After playing for a while you figure out what works best for you. It's good that we have lunch at training all together as a team after the sessions in the morning so we're all eating the right food and stuff. Hydration is extremely important as any athlete would know so we make sure we stay right on top of that. A lot of the other players take vitamins and things. Each player's individual though, so I generally just like to drink a lot of Gatorade, drink a lot of water and get a lot of hydrolytes throughout the week. Then I just try to eat foods that work with my stomach, like I've figured out that I can't really have any milk on the morning of a training because it just doesn't sit right, so I'll generally just have toast with eggs. But other players are completely different. That's something I think is really important, you can't just sit down and tell a whole footballing team or even an individual what they need to eat, they need to figure it out by themselves. Of course, you can't just eat whatever you want, but what works for one person isn't necessarily going to work for someone else.

Steve: Yep, sure. Could you tell us a bit about your sporting background? Have you always just played soccer or have you played other sports also?

Sam: When I was younger, I pretty much liked every sport. When I was 5-6 coming into school, I liked playing as bit of rugby, cricket and athletics; I did a bit of everything when I was younger. I decided to do soccer over rugby when I was about 6-7, I initially tried to play both at the same time, but it didn't really work so I had to make the choice. Then I've just played soccer ever since, I still did athletics in the summer, but I didn't really like the individual side of it, I liked being part of a team. I just played locally for a long time when I was younger, just enjoyed it and never really thought too much about it. Then when I was about 15, I was lucky enough to make a state team in New South Wales where I'm from and get into the New South Wales Institute of Sport when I was 16 which helped me develop a lot under a good coach when I was there. I had to go back and play for my state team of Manly United for a while, then got into Sydney FCU and then it all just went from there.

Steve: Yeh, awesome. In your soccer career, you've predominantly spent time in the backline, but have also played forward. Which do you prefer?

Sam: Yeh, I think it's a tough one for me because when I grew up, I was always a striker until I was about 15, I played up front and in the midfield. Then as a lot of people say, when you get to about 16-18 you kind of specify a position for yourself and I was lucky enough to get a trial for the state team as a left back which I'd never played before and I just went with it and quite enjoyed it. I thought I did quite well there and my coach said he saw me as a better player when I was facing the whole pitch. I always liked scoring goals and being up front but I've also really liked being a defender and it's suited me more over the years. I still consider myself to be able to play a midfield role, but I think one of my strongest positions is probably centre back at the moment.

Steve: Yep. You had a trial with Birmingham City back a few years ago, how was the experience training abroad?

Sam: Yeh, for me that was a massive turning point. Until that point, I was just playing for my local club, I hadn't signed with an A-league team or done anything major and it was just a bit of a turning point to me to really crack down and be serious about football and to go overseas for 3 or so weeks and trial at Birmingham was just a massive eye-opening experience for me and ever since then, I've just decided that this is what I want to do just from my experiencing the lifestyle over there. Then coming back to Australia and making my way into A-League squads at the moment just makes me realise that soccer over here's at a really high level. The Birmingham experience just really showed me how much I love football and that this is what I want to do as a profession.

Steve: Yeh, sure. You've had a few injury troubles over the past few years, as with most athletes, what's the worst injury you've endured while playing soccer?

Sam: I had to have an operation on my left foot after having a lot of problems with the bone joint in my left big toe, which put me out for about 4 months or so after coming out of the New South Wales Institute of Sport. It came at a pretty bad time, because a lot of players were moving onto the AIS or Junior A-league teams, so it put me back to the State League where I had to do my recovery and then make my way back up from there. A lot of people have had a lot worse injuries than me; I've only really had little knocks along the way apart from that one. I consider myself very lucky that I've never had anything too bad. I've never had any soft tissue injuries either, so I do consider myself very lucky.

Steve: Yeh, absolutely. Do you have any pre-game rituals?

Sam: Just a few little things really. I generally like to do things the same before each game, like clean my boots before I get to the game or if I'm in the change rooms just set all my gear up in a certain way. Just a bit of a routine that makes me feel a bit more comfortable. I always listen to the same sort of music on the way to a game. I generally eat the same sort of meals before a game. So mine aren't too bad, just a few little things like that to make you feel a bit more comfortable. But I've seen a lot of crazy rituals from other players, but I don't have anything like that.

Steve: Yeh, sure. Who do you feel like is the best soccer player you've played with or against?

Sam: Umm, it's a tough one... But probably for me at the moment, Archie Thompson from the Melbourne Victory is definitely one of the best players I've ever been in a squad with or even played against at one point. For his age, he's still just such a phenomenal player and some of the things he can do with the football are just astonishing. But I've been lucky enough to play with quite a good bunch of players throughout my short time playing in the A-League so far. Mark Milligan, I was with him in Melbourne this year and then a couple of the boys back at the Mariners have done really well, but for me I think Archie Thompson is one of the best players I've ever been a part of a team with.

Steve: Yeh, sure. What do you consider as the highlight of your soccer career?

Sam: When I was 18, I was lucky enough to get picked for a World Cup squad for the under 20s. I was quite young, one of the younger players in the squad and I was pretty fortunate to go across there to Egypt and play in the Under 20s World Cup for Australia. I was a squad player at the time and didn't play in the first 2 games, but loved the experience anyway. We weren't doing so well and the coach chucked me in for the last game and I got to play against Brazil. We were actually 1-0 up for a good portion of the game and it was just one of the best experiences I've ever had, to play against a Brazilian National team. There are some players I played against that are now playing in the Champion's league or all over the world stage, so for me, I think that was a massive highlight.

Steve: Yeh, absolutely. We've seen a lot of rule changes in recent years in other sport codes, do you think there are any rules in soccer that need to be updated or changed?

Sam: There's none really I can think of. I think it's all pretty smooth in soccer at the moment. People are always going to whinge about decisions and stuff about calls that don't go their way, that's just part of football. I know there have been problems with AFL rules and NRL rules, but I don't think we really have anything that needs to change. I think it's a lot less complicated than those other sports and everything seems to be sorted out already.

Steve: Yeh, sure... and just finally Sam, who do you think will win the English Premier League this year?

Sam: Look, well... Man U have wrapped it up, but hopefully next year my team, Liverpool, can finally get back up and win the Premier League. We haven't done it for a while and it'd be nice to see them win it!

Steve: Yeh, sure, haha. Well, that's all I've got for you Sam. Thanks very much for your time, I really appreciate it.

Sam: No worries at all, Steve!