Former Anfield goalkeeper Dean Bouzanis is hoping the EFL surprise package can deliver another shock for Sutton United when they take on Rotherham United in the Papa John’s Trophy final at Wembley
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A goalkeeper once touted by former players as the best in the world for his age group Liverpool Manager Rafael Benitez is hoping to seal Wembley’s glory today.
Australia’s Dean Bouzanis was just 16 when he made a potentially career-changing move from across the world to Anfield. Benitez he liked what he saw after the Australian had impressed for his country’s Under-17 side before attracting attention at a trial in Melwood.
“I remember getting promoted to the first-team and getting my first-team squad number and seeing that on the wall. I will never forget little things like that,” says Bouzanis, looking back on that time. “In the beginning it is very nerve-wracking and a bit like jumping in at the deep end. But at the same time you are a professional and you have to put that aside to try to have a career because you are just a little boy. Before you know it, they become teammates and friends.”
Despite Benitez’s bill, Bouzanis never appeared as a senior for Liverpool but he still has fond memories of his time at the club between 2007 and 2011. Fifteen years later he is now hoping to return to the national spotlight to help Sutton seal United’s place eye-catching football league first silver cutlery. The South London club sealed promotion the EFL for the first time in their history last season. But Matt Gray’s team isn’t just looking for consolidation in the shake for a second consecutive promotion.
Before that, however, comes the trifle of the EFL Trophy final at Wembley against Rotherham United. The Millers are strong favorites though Sutton has enjoyed the underdog label many times this season, and Bouzanis has proved essential as a last line of defense in goal. While acknowledging the club’s excellence, the former Liverpool stopper refuses to accept that they have surpassed.
Speak with the guardadded the 31-year-old: “It’s a tremendous achievement to get promoted, really progress and have the chance to get promoted from the second tier this year and then have that fantastic day. You can say we’ve surpassed it, but I don’t see it that way. We have a lot of good players. We know what we can do. We pride ourselves on breaking hard because we believe we can score the goals to win our pass.”
While most footballers tend to switch off when they return home to family, Bouzanis can instead share the experience of being a full-time athlete. His partner is a fellow Australian and arsenal Star Stephen Catley. The pair met when Bouzanis was playing at Melbourne City while Catley was playing for the women’s team.
Both relocated to London in 2020 and are very successful with their current employers. “As a footballer, you want to be there at these big games and be able to experience these moments and share them together – that’s something special,” said Bouzanis. whether you need to go away, change clubs, you might need to do a bit of long-distance travel, which is what we had to do at the beginning of our relationship.
“Coming back here in the prime of my career and being successful at Sutton means a lot to me and my family. If I keep fit and take care of my body, I could play for another seven or eight years, which is what a lot of goalkeepers do these days.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/bouzanis-liverpool-efl-trophy-final-26623525 Ex-Liverpool ace hailed 'best of his age' by Rafa Benitez as he looks at EFL Trophy success