Domenic Costanzo is a different player from father Angelo, but is taking familiar footsteps on his way to Australian football success.
Angelo Costanzo was an uncompromising defensive player in his prime, and when his former club Adelaide United pay tribute to him in a nostalgic post, it always follows a similar pattern according to son Domenic.
“It’s always the slide tackle isn’t it,” joked Domenic when discussing the social media posts Adelaide United make regarding his father.
He may be built differently than his father, but Domenic does not hold back from a challenge.
“Defending is certainly not my strongest attribute but every now and then you’ve got to throw in a slide tackle, I got that from him.”
Despite the fact that Domenic Costanzo has proven to be a pretty handy player in 2022, football was not always a passion of his, often preferring to stay home with his sister rather than joining his dad on the field or watching him from the stands during his time as a player.
It was not until his father’s career moved a young Domenic out of his comfort zone to Newcastle when he discovered the passion that still drives him over a decade later.
“The move helped me find a love for the game because there wasn’t much else to do, I was around the game a lot and that’s why I fell in love with it!”
Angelo made sure not to push his son into following the path he did, but was more than happy to help once he started showing interest.
“Once we moved to Newcastle it was just us, for that first period we didn’t know anyone. I used to take him to training, he met the players and he started wanting to play. I always said to him, ‘when you’re ready you tell me and we’ll start training.’ From that period, pretty much everyday he started wanting to play, he enjoyed the game and he started getting his passion from then on.”Embed from Getty Images
As a teenager, Domenic was picked up to play for his father’s former club, Adelaide United, as part of its NPL youth set up. His father was not just proud of achievement, but also that it was his son’s hard work that got him the opportunity in the first place.
“There was a lot of work, a lot of dedication and he chose to do it, it’s a choice, no one tells you to do it, you choose to do it. He put a lot of hours in, mornings and afternoons, when he didn’t have his own training, we would be doing something. He made that choice, he decided to go down that path and he knows he has to put the work in.”
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After some success with the NPL Reserve squad, Costanzo was released by the Reds and after re-affirming his commitment to football, he singed for Croydon FC, a side coached by his father Angelo.
His first season at Croydon took the NPL SA by surprise, with the young winger recording 14 goals, finishing second in the goalscoring tally, only behind Adelaide Comets captain and former Newcastle Jet Allan Welsh.
Domenic attributes his success to his father’s treatment of him. “I definitely felt is that he had it in for me,” he joked.
“I definitely didn’t get away with anything, he treated everyone the same and if anything he was harder on me. That’s the way it had to be I think. I never wanted him to take it easy on me, and if I made a mistake, I’d want to know about it.”
Angelo confirmed that even though coaching his son may have raised eyebrows, he was not one to hand him a free pass.
“It is always difficult (coaching his son) but at the end of the day I treated him probably harder than everyone else, you can ask the people down there, he wasn’t going to get a free ride under me! In the end, he made us pick him because he was scoring, he put the hard work in. He wasn’t playing because of his name, he was playing because of his performances.”
Domenic’s performances impressed so much that Adelaide United’s interest was once again piqued, this time signing the up and coming star to a scholarship contract for the A League Men squad, making himself and his father the first father-son combination in Adelaide United history.
Despite the initial excitement, Domenic never got the opportunity to impress, with the Reds being stacked in the wide attacking positions, a fact that frustrated Angelo who had coached him for the previous 12 months and was well aware of his son’s quality.
“We were really proud of him being the first father-son at Adelaide United but for one reason or another it didn’t work out. The most disappointing thing is that he didn’t get an opportunity, everyone else got some game time apart from him.”
While he was lighting up the NPL SA competition the previous season, Domenic often found himself relegated to the Reds’ NPL Reserve squad while warming the bench for the Senior NPL squad. It was a fact that was hard to accept, as less than a year previous to that his form in that same competition led to his move to United; Domenic sought a release from his contract, a request which was duly accepted by the Adelaide United hierarchy.
Despite getting his wish granted, it was a frustrating time for Domenic with many circumstances out of his control conspiring to make his next career move difficult, something that his father lamented in his conversation with The Inner Sanctum.
“He went back to Croydon after that (his second stint at Adelaide United), he was supposed to go to Newcastle, he went up for training and they were going to sign him and then Craig Deans (the coach at the time) gets moved on and that changed everything. At that stage COVID was happening and he couldn’t return to Adelaide for training. It was just one of those unfortunate situation that a lot of players found themselves in.”
“That was the frustrating thing for him, he eventually went back to Croydon to play but at the back of his mind Newcastle was there and mentally it was hard for him to deal with, he was only 18-19 at that stage; he had to regroup and go again.”
Following the Newcastle opportunity falling away and an unsuccessful trial in Italy, Domenic found himself stuck in Sydney on his way back to Australia, unable to enter South Australia because of COVID-19 hotel quarantine requirements.
Despite all the obstacles, Domenic, resilient as ever, remained positive and made the most out of his misfortune in Sydney.
“Everything happens for a reason I guess, now that’s in the past and I look towards the future,” the young forward mentioned about his disappointments during that period of his career.
After training with Sydney United, Domenic decided it was time to get out of his comfort zone and give NPL NSW a crack instead of returning to South Australia. Sydney United did not seem interested in his services, but a familiar club came calling.
The Marconi Stallions were the club Angelo was playing when Domenic was born and when they were informed that the son of their former player was making the switch of states, they pounced on the opportunity to sign him.
“The Club still has some familiar faces from when I was around which is good, they made him feel welcome but at the end of the day he had to perform. He had to go there and show what he’s got, your name only gets you so far, you have to actually perform and to his credit he’s done that,” remarked a proud Angelo.
Despite the NPL NSW typically being a more physical league than its South Australian counterpart, Angelo was confident his son would adapt well.
“He’s not one to hold back, he’s not the most physical but he’s not scared either. He has adapted very well, since he has been playing the team has done very well and he’s been performing, making that left wing his position this year.”
After being eased into the league via the bench in his first couple of weeks, Costanzo has taken New South Wales by storm, scoring six goals for the Stallions while also being involved in much of his side’s positive play in its charge for silverware, a widely recognised fact, with the name Costanzo a regular feature in the competition’s Team of the Week in 2022.
“I think I just needed that time to adjust a little bit, it didn’t take me long and the coaches had faith in me to keep me in there and I keep trying to contribute to the team as much as I can. I think I’ve fit in quiet well at the moment.”
With the introduction of a National Second Division set for 2023 and Domenic impressing for a Club well and truly in contention for a spot, both father and son are hopeful.
“I knew it wasn’t going to happen straight away, but that was the goal coming to Sydney, to progress to the next level as soon as possible. Hopefully Marconi do end up in it (National Second Division) and hopefully they have enough faith in me to stay in the team in that division. Once it is all in place, it is going to be a great opportunity,” commented Domenic.
Despite his young rollercoaster journey not always going to plan, Angelo is proud of his son’s work ethic and where he finds himself today.
“At the end of the day, he just has to keep working hard and eventually that pays off, that’s what we try to instill in him and he has those traits that he keeps working, he does his extra stuff, that’s all you can do. Hopefully something opens up for him, we have to wait and see.”
It is still early and the path has been anything but smooth, but Domenic Costanzo is well and truly on the right trajectory in his football journey. With the support of his family and Football Australia potentially opening up the door to a National Second Division for young talents like himself, Domenic Costanzo’s journey still has many exciting chapters yet to be written.
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