IT IS not often you would regard a professional footballer moving from England to Australia as a success story – but that is certainly the case for Zach Clough.
The Denton-raised former Audenshaw High School pupil, who made a reported £3 million move from Bolton Wanderers to Nottingham Forest in 2017, currently plies his trade with Adelaide United in the A-League.
And the 28-year-old, who also featured for Wigan Athletic and Carlisle United among others, has enjoyed a great start to the season as the Reds are flying high after two wins and a draw from their opening encounters.
The attacking midfielder, who is utilised in a number 10 role, has acclimatised to the club’s demands – and the searing Australian heat – since joining the club 21 months ago.
Despite the miles between home and his career, he has not forgotten his roots after spending much of his childhood close to Denton Town’s Whittle’s Park, even kicking a ball around there when he was a kid
That was highlighted with a £250 donation towards the football club’s appeal to help because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Now having been plagued by injury during his final years in England, Zach has rebuilt his fitness and appears to be back to his best.
By his own admission, it has taken some time to make the adjustments but now feels right at home down under – especially with the backing of the Adelaide faithful.
He said: “I wasn’t fully fit when I arrived in Australia, so it was always going to take some time to regain those levels and be able to play for 90 minutes.
“I feel fit, my body feels good and I’m looking forward to a good season.
“It’s hard to play in the heat – even the Australian players say they struggle at times – but I don’t particularly focus on the weather anymore, I’m fully focused on the football.
“Every time we play at home it’s amazing, and the fans are like a 12th man for the team.
“The training is really good at the minute, I love playing with the senior boys, we’re playing a different style of football and it’s very exciting.
“We’ve lifted the intensity as a group, and while it’s still early days, we can only get better.”
After making 11 appearances during his first season at Coopers Stadium, Zach hit the ground running during his second campaign and notched four times in 21 games.
However, he was unable to prevent the club from play-off heartache as Central Coast Mariners, who went on to win the championship, beat Adelaide 4-1 on aggregate in the semi-final.
Adaleide look to have learnt from their previous mistakes in the early stages of this season, as a 3-0 victory against the Mariners, combined with a 1-1 draw against Melbourne City, have put them in good stead to challenge for silverware.
But Zach, who scored two goals in his opening four matches, does not intend in stopping.
He added: “To go and beat Central Coast was massive as they beat us in the finals last season. It serves as a marker of where we’re at, but I still think they’ll be one of the best teams this year.”
Despite residing on the other side of the world, Zach has plenty of home comforts down under and is playing alongside a familiar face from his days in the Football League – a familiar accent too.
Former Manchester United youngster Ryan Tunnicliffe, who grew up in the Heywood area, signed terms with the club in September.
And Zach hailed the 30-year-old midfielder’s arrival, adding: “I took him out for dinner with myself and my Mrs. He’s loving Adaleide, he’s settled in and has a house now.
“I played against Ryan a few times growing up – we grew up about 10km from each other, so it’s crazy to be playing in Adaleide at this stage of our careers.”