‘Our shorts almost didn’t make it for kick-off’: Pantelis

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Former Adelaide United winger, Lucas Pantelis, remembers well the last minute panic of the Club’s first ever A-League match.

United – and the A-League’s – inaugural match was an away trip to Newcastle to face the renamed Jets, and it was mostly the Reds’ large Adelaide City (Force) contingent that had previous experience of the trip in the previous National Soccer League (NSL) competition.

There was a mixture of excitement and nervousness in the air on the team bus in the lead-in to that famous game against Newcastle, which proved so much for the travelling team that they forgot to bring the correct match day shorts to wear.

Pantelis says it was all a part of the fabric of creating a new Club:

“In the rush to get up to Newcastle we forgot to bring the correct shorts and so the Club had to fly up one of the young office staff from Adelaide on the day,” he laughed.

“The poor lad got to the ground with about an hour to spare after jumping on a plane and straight into the car.

 “But you know, that’s just some of the things that happened at a brand new Club and with all of that came a new professional state of mind as well.

“Sure, we could have played with the wrong shorts, but we wanted to be sending the right message at the start of a new, fully professional competition.”

Pantelis was head-hunted by United after news travelled that he had returned to Adelaide and joined White City in 2004 after a failed bid to sign overseas.

He was with Parramatta Power during United’s foundation years but returned in time for the inception of the A-League in 05-06.

“For me to be an Adelaide boy and sign in time for the start of this new, exciting competition, it was a special moment and a huge honour,” Pantelis said.

“And flicking that switch from a semi-professional at Parramatta for me was quite fine and natural, but for a lot of the boys it was a completely new experience.

“This made for some very funny and iconic moments through the years.”

United ended up winning 0-1 – with the correct shorts – thanks to a well-timed header from none other than Carl Veart which also went down in history as the A-League’s first-ever goal.

Pantelis can fondly recall many classic moments from those early days at United and through his early twenties like it was yesterday.

He is part of the fabrication of a proud Club, with a proud 20-year history.

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