05/03/2024

Nathaniel Atkinson played a big part in City's Grand Final win last season. (Photo: Melbourne City FC)

Melbourne City manager Patrick Kisnorbo sees Nathaniel Atkinson’s big move to Hearts as a 'great first step' for a young Australian footballer.

Melbourne City manager Patrick Kisnorbo gave detail to Nathaniel Atkinson’s big move in this morning’s press conference.

After making 75 appearances for Melbourne City, including an unforgettable Joe Marston Medal winning performance in last season’s Grand Final, Atkinson has completed a move to Heart of Midlothian FC for an undisclosed fee. Hearts currently sit third in the Scottish Premiership, only trailing giants Rangers and Celtic.

The move comes after an injury interrupted start to the season for Atkinson, making only four appearances and one start. “The move developed over some time”, according to Kisnorbo, meaning his early form this season isn’t likely to have impacted Hearts’ decision.

Kisnorbo was bullish on the move, but also left words of caution for his departing youngster.

“Time will tell how he will go, you know it’s not an easy league,” he told media on Tuesday.

Kisnorbo is well versed in regards to Atkinson’s move, as he also made the move to Hearts as a young player in 2003, after starting his senior career at then NSL club South Melbourne. He spoke very highly of the club and the league, calling it “a great first step” for a young Australian footballer.

When questioned about how the move came about, and whether it was due to a lack of starting opportunities, Kisnorbo was adamant this was not the case, instead promoting the natural progression of a young player at Melbourne City.

“We want to sort of produce players for this club, to give them a chance, and that’s what it was,” the coach said.

“Through his hard work, he played for us and obviously he’s fulfilled a dream of many kids and hopefully it’s a first of many steps… that’s part of the journey and the process at this club.”

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The interest overseas for Atkinson developed after impressing in the Olyroos’ Tokyo Olympics campaign last year, in which he made two starts.

Also in the squad there were three more young Melbourne City talents; Tom Glover, Conor Metcalfe, and Marco Tilio. All three had impressive tournaments in Tokyo and continue to put in the work for Melbourne City as regular first team members.

When it comes to the future of his young players, Kisnorbo favours on the side of doing what is best for the player and in turn the best for the Australian national team, by urging them to push for the chance to move overseas.

“They’re talented kids; they need to work and work hard to try and get a move over. That’s why I’m sort of really honest to say they need to work hard to produce and to train and to play as best as they can,” he said.

“It doesn’t get easier as you leave Australia, it gets harder to go to Europe.”

Kisnorbo’s Melbourne City will face Wellington Phoenix in an FFA Cup Quarter Final tomorrow night, at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex.

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