Dan Costanzo made his Northern Blues debut last weekend — three years after his first pre-season. (PHOTO CREDIT: Northern Blues Football Club)
Dan Costanzo’s Northern Blues journey has been an arduous one.
So, his relief at making a VFL debut — which was three year in the making — was evident.
Costanzo’s story is one of perseverance, which began in the pre-season of 2015/16. It was capped off with his best moment for the Blues at the weekend, debuting against Essendon in a high-octane battle.
The 22-year-old said the chance to pull on the Northern jumper was something he’d worked hard for.
“Pulling on the jumper for the first time was a privilege,” Costanzo said.
“I knew that as soon as I put the jumper on, it was go-time and we meant business.”
— Northern Blues FC (@NBluesFC) August 25, 2018
You have to rewind back to Josh Fraser’s arrival at the Club, which is when Costanzo arrived for pre-season training at Ikon Park.
Costanzo had seen his mates play 53 senior games before his opportunity at Windy Hill.
Offered a spot on the rookie list in 2016, Costanzo made the final list in 2017 when he played five games in the Development League.
However, with the competition ending last season, Costanzo knew his work would be cut out for him.
“Knowing in 2018 that the Development League wouldn’t be going ahead, I knew I was up for a fight to get a spot on the VFL list,” Costanzo said.
“2018 came and halfway through pre-season, I spoke with ‘Frase’ and the other coaches. It was when I changed from playing off half-back to playing a small forward role.”
That position yielded almost immediate results for Costanzo in Round 21, as he drew a free kick 10 minutes into the game.
Looking back, Costanzo described the moment — which brought about his first goal — as a “nerve-settler”.
“Kicking my first goal settled the nerves, definitely. I started out on the interchange bench and I didn’t know what to expect,” Costanzo said.
“After my first goal, everything settled down a bit and I was able to play my natural game. The tempo of the game was obviously a lot faster, so I knew I had to adapt quickly.”
Finishing with 11 disposals, Costanzo may have been justified to think that his senior call-up wasn’t going to happen after a lengthy wait.
He said the moment he was told of his debut was a memorable one.
“Round 21 came and team selection comes out on the Thursday prior. I was in the squad and didn’t know if I was playing of not,” Costanzo said.
“During training, ‘Frase’ called me over and told me ‘you’re in this week’. It was an unreal moment — the coaches and players got around me.”
Now with another pre-season to prepare for, Costanzo knows that there’s no entitlement despite finishing the year on a VFL high.
“On the day I just did what was required to play at VFL level. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of my teammates and coaches,” Costanzo said.
“They have been a huge help for me taking some steps forward. My confidence going into pre-season has taken a boost, knowing I can play at the level.”