Although many across the Northern NSW football community often associate the ‘Virgili’ name with his younger brother James, Luke Virgili has been a man that has achieved almost everything there is to do in the NNSW National Premier Leagues (NPL), and has been a consistent and crucial member to the success of Broadmeadow Magic. The left back has long been considered one of the best in his position in the competition, and this week he caught up with our correspondent Quentin, to chat about the progress of his career including what he loves most about being a part of the Magic family.
Where and when did you start your junior career and how did you progress into senior football?
My first club was South Wallsend where I played from U6’s through to U12’s. During U11’s and U12’s I was also part of the Newcastle-Port Stephens Development Squad under Richard Hartley. In U13’s and U14’s I played for Newcastle United in the Sydney Youth League before the old NSL folded and there was the break before the A-League started. I then went back to Newcastle-Port Stephens under Richard and played U15s and U16s. Throughout the U16s year, I was also dual-registered with the Edgeworth U19s squad and would sit on the bench for them most weeks.
What teams have you played for and when?
In 2007, I signed with the Edgeworth U19s. Throughout that year I played a mixture of U19s and Reserve Grade. In 2008, Dad and Bobby Naumov teamed up and took over Hamilton Olympic but I decided to stay at Edgeworth under Gary Wilson and Robert Jovanovski and that was where I made my 1st Grade debut. The following year, I moved across to Hamilton Olympic where I played a mixture of Reserve Grade and 1st Grade and in that season, the 1st Grade squad won the Grand Final. Olympic wanted to go in a different direction and Dad and Bobby moved on which saw 8-9 1st Graders also leave. I started to talk with Magic about the upcoming season and then it all made sense to make the move over when Dad and Damien Smith where named as head coaches for the 2010 season. I was in and around the 1st Grade squad during pre-season as predominately a left midfielder but Damo wanted to have a look at me as a left fullback. I played a couple of trial games there and managed to hold my spot for the year.
What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not playing football?
Work and football keep me pretty busy through the week so I like to spend my spare time with my partner Britt, friends and family.
What do you do for work? Have you completed your studies, if so, in what field?
I completed a Bachelor of Construction Management in 2012 and am currently working as a Project Manager in multi-unit/townhouse construction around Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.
What player has been one of your favourite players to play with and you have admiration for? Why?
There has been quite a few over the years, especially during the 2011-2013 period where we won the 3 Grand Finals, but if I had to pick one, it would be Peter Haynes. Haynsey was a great captain and leader for everyone at the club. Game after game, Haynsey would come up with something special to pull us through. He was a classy player who you could always bank on in big games.
Which player is the hardest to play against? And why?
I’d probably say Daniel McBreen. He’s strong in the air, holds the ball up well and has a knack for linking up with his midfielders. He’s a very smart player.
You’ve been at Broadmeadow for basically your whole career, what is it about the club that you love and has kept you there?
Everyone at the club has always been great, from the committee to the sponsors and supporters. Our facility is a testament to the work these guys have put in over the years. What has kept me here at Magic for so long though, has been the playing group. Magic has always been a club with very little player turnover and I think that’s because of the great bunch of boys and culture we have at Magic.
You won the Macedonian Cup earlier this year, that must have been a great experience for you and the club?
The Macedonian Cup is always a tough weekend. Being in January, it’s the first set of games we play for the year and its always hot! Being in Melbourne this year, a few of the senior boys struggled to make the trip so we had a really young squad. We took a while to get going on the Sunday morning after a heavy schedule playing a game on the Friday night and a couple on the Saturday, scraping through the quarters on penalties. We came out good in the semis and then beat Rockdale in the Final where we played some really good stuff and scored a few nice team goals. It was a great achievement for the club and something that meant so much to the committee members. It was also nice to beat Rockdale and show that there might not be as big of a gap between the top Sydney teams and top Newcastle teams as everyone thinks.
Been playing with your brother since he returned from the Jets, must be special to play with him on a week-to-week basis? And also hearing about his potential return to the Jets?
It’s been great to have him back. It was an easy move for him to come to Magic as he already had a lot of mates in the team. We are fortunate to get the opportunity to play together and it makes the good times that little bit sweeter. I’m happy for him in regards to the Jets call up. He has been very consistent since coming back to the NPL and I think he deserves it. At the end of the day, he’s going for a week in China and playing a couple of games. He is at a good age now that he can play these couple of games with confidence and then we will see what happens. It will be a good experience for him nonetheless, he’s got nothing to lose.
Most memorable moment(s) of your career so far?
The period that I always look back on is from 2011 to 2013. We won two Premierships (2011 & 2013) and won three Grand Finals in a row. I still catch up with most of the boys from that squad and some are my best mates. It was probably that extra bit special as my Dad was the coach, along with good family friends Damo Smith and Bobby Naumov. During this time, Magic also won Grand Finals in the U23’s and U19s which made for some big celebrations.
Most influential person in your career?
Definitely Dad. From the junior years into senior football, Dad’s always been there to push and encourage me. Even now, if I want an honest opinion of my game, I’ll call Dad. James and I are very lucky to have a mentor with the knowledge and experience that he has.
What are you hoping to achieve for this year’s season?
Trophies. We are in the hunt for the Premiership so we have to keep pushing towards that goal. Hopefully we are also there at the end in the Grand Final as it’s always a special day and they are the ones you remember. We are in the Round of 32 in the FFA cup again which is great, but it would be even better to go one more step to the Round of 16 where we have never been before.
What’s your plans for the future of your career? Where are you hoping to progress?
To win a couple more Grand Finals. We have been close, but not close enough in the last couple of years but I feel as though we are building a good squad at the moment and hopefully one is just around the corner. I’m also closing in on 200 games for Magic, so the next goal will be to get to 250 and see how the body is feeling. A little FFA Cup run would be exciting also but we will see what happens.