DPMM FC have welcomed foreign additions in the past who cemented their place in the club’s record books, with midfield players like Paulo Sergio and Joe Gamble exerting an influence and inspiration that complemented the existing qualities in defence and attack.
To help bring back the glory days of their maiden title triumph, the club turned to Blake Ricciuto who, with the vitality, drive and aggression in his game, has strengthened the midfield with his marauding excursions in the box.
“Personally, I’ve had a great time here in DPMM FC. Obviously, it is not over yet and we have some cup games and we’re looking forward to try and win the cup as well,” said Ricciuto in an interview with the Bulletin.
“In a group or team aspect, we had a great season. We won the league which is our ambition and which we came out to do. Personally, I had a great time and it has been a beautiful journey.
“I don’t regret coming to Brunei and I love every minute of the journey,” continued the Australian, who is of Uruguayan and Italian descent.
Ricciuto, who previously had spells in the Uruguayan and Australian leagues, proved an integral figure in the league, coming up with moments that drove his team to victory.
It has been a long way since the first moment he took to the field as he embarked on a new chapter of his football career.
As the club prepared a new training regime spearheaded by head coach Adrian Pennock, who was also fairly new at that time and fitness coach Lindsay Davis, Ricciuto highlighted the support he received from his teammates and coaching staff in his early days with the club.
“To be honest, I came here not knowing too much. We started off with the trials with a lot of people. Obviously, it is all very new when you first come,” he said. “But the boys, the coaching staff, management and the whole club have treated me well from day one. As soon as I arrived, I kind of felt like home.
“Obviously now with winning the championship, there are a lot of good feelings as well,” continued the former Rockdale City Suns midfielder.
It has been a long journey not just for Ricciuto but the entire team as well, with fitness sessions designed to shape the team in the best possible condition. A typical training session without the requirement of a ball included trails at Tasek Lama Recreational Park.
The midfielder was effusive in praise of his teammates, particularly after seeing how their hard work during pre-season yielded a league title.
“Looking back at what we did pre-season running up the hills at Tasek Lama, it made everything worthwhile especially the hard work. The boys have been excellent and as I said the whole club has been great.”
Operating in an excitingly organised midfield, Ricciuto made a significant impact to the team and produced some crucial moments to lift his side to victory.
The midfielder picked out his memorable moments during the course of the season – in particular in a rollercoaster match against Warriors which saw momentum swing both ways.
“On a personal level, scoring against Warriors in a home game and obviously my first game against Geylang was a great moment. But I think the goal against Warriors in the 82nd minute with a header was one of the great moments.
“There were a lot of good moments looking back in a short space of time. It has been excellent and credit to everyone – the club, the team, the management and the players.”
The goal against Warriors represents a perfect example of his views that the championship win was a result of the entire team and not just dependent on one or two players. Indeed, Ricciuto has dismissed the longstanding notion of the club’s over-reliance with foreign imports.