All about Aljaž Cotman – Wolves new keeper signing

His name is Aljaž Cotman and goaltending is his game. Already from five years of age he has spent much time between the uprights, trying to learn the game from his father – a professional footballer himself. At only fourteen he went to play with Empoli’s junior team. Being 1.90 centimeters tall at the time, he looked much older than his age, though.

Cotman has now signed for Wolves and he arrived from Triglav Krani -a Slovenian club with a good reputation – a couple of days ago and he has been on trial since. Apparently the Wolves keeper experts liked what they saw. He was very close to sign for Empoli last year, but that failed to materialise. Some dispute between clubs, it is said.

I found an interview in Slovenian on the net with Aljaž made by Marko Premri. Since I’m no expert at the language, I have had it translated by Google and then fixed it up some.

Can you tell me a little about how you started to play football.

I started playing football when I was five years old. It was my father who introduced me to the game. He was a successful footballer. I trained at “the High”  (?) for four years, my first coach was my father Paul and he also taught me the first basics. I got quite a few awards for best goalkeeper, and the club Triglav Kranj became interested in me. I went to play for them when I was eleven. Thanks to coach Frank Taljan I learned a lot and had very advanced training. And we became even state champions in the selection of U-12. I played for Triglav for two seasons, then the Italian club Empoli became interested in me“.

An almost redundant question. How did you get accustomed to Italian life?

I did not need much time to get accustomed to Italian life. I knew the language well, but I missed family and friends, but after a few weeks it went better. I was befriended by fellow players, and I fairly well already spoke Italian, so I could communicate normally with others. I met many friends, so It was easier.

Most youth at your age are dealing with grade problems alone but you decided to play football abroad. Was this decision difficult Did anybody help you out?

It was not an easy decision, because to go abroad when you are fourteen without completed primary school and without the loved ones is not a very easy thing. I had to do without a lot of things when it come to studies, but I do what I like the most, I play football. My family helped me. My parents have supported my footballing career from an early age. They still drive me to training and matches, and they were behind me one hundred percent as they knew it was a big opportunity for me.”

For how long did you know that you were being watched by the Italians?

I was under the viewing by the Italians for about half a year. I played a game in Italy and they became interested. I was invited to a trial in Empoli. There I trained with the youth team, which was a surprise to me, because they were much older. They wanted me to come to play for them immediately, but at home I was waiting for the obligations relating to school because I had not completed the eighth grade. In April I went again to Empoli, where I played a tournament with a team. I defended very well, received a goal and at the end we won the tournament. And after that I finally went to Empoli in August 2008.

You were always a head or more taller than your team-mates, so you always have performed with a year or two older teams, even at Triglav. Even In Empoli it was similar, I have heard. Am I wrong?

Indeed, in Empoli I was ranked as a ‘Cadet’, despite my fourteen years. I heard that in Italy only five in my age group had played for the Cadets, so I am very proud that I am one of them.

How much do you physical strength means at your age for the game?

Of course, that have helped me personally to get me where I am.But it is not enough to succeed, you also need the technology.

What are the advantages and what are the drawbacks of having so quickly grown up to 190 cm? Have you ever had any problems with that?

In fact, I can say that for this sport my size has been a great advantage. It happened often though, when I came to a game that people were pointing the finger at me and had inappropriate comments that I would be too old because I was always one head longer than almost all the other players. To me it is sometimes very disturbing. But I have never had any major problems because of my height.

“Team Allievi Nazionale”, in which you were placed, did an excellent season with five wins in five matches. How much did you play in this first part, and are you happy with your performance?

Unfortunately, in the first part I didn’t play, because my documents were not clear. The problem arose because I am still very young and I’m here without parents, it has been delayed. But I got a lot of opportunities in friendly matches. Some teams were very strong. I played in goal in the game against Georgia and Bulgaria’s national team (U-21) and even against Inter.”

Despite the fact that at this time Empoli is not one of the best senior teams in Italy it is certainly one of the best youth schools, where they also have an excellent tradition. So Is training substantially different from in Slovenia?

Trainings are very different from those I had in Slovenia. They are much more difficult, much work on physical strength, especially in engineering (?). They are also longer, lasting from two and a half hours to three hours. Trainings are also much more disciplined. My coach is Giulio Drago, who was once a successful goalie in the series A and series B.

You probably already had the privilege to know the senior players of Empoli, as it is often the case that they play preparatory matches during the week against juniors and cadets. What are your feelings as a young player to meet such famous footballers?

Feelings are of course good, when you meet so famous footballers. In particular to play against them, even if only as a backup player. After the race, I also talked with some players, but I also got a few jerseys and pants.

I guess your wish is also to play as soon as possible for a senior team. When do you think you get such an opportunity?

What is ahead of me now is a lot of work initially and I still play in the selection of younger than Youth (under 18’s). My big wish is also to play in the Slovenian national team selections for under 18’s and later for the senior team.

Who is your role model and why? What do you most admire in him?

To be honest, I have no idol, and I have never wanted one. As a goalie I otherwise like Buffon, but he is not my role model.

Empoli is a town where there is very much pressure on football players. Did you get used to this or did you get homesick?

I personally do not feel pressure because I was in the youth selection. People do not know me yet. But it is true that it is a small town that live for football. This does not mean that there is any pressure on footballers. The atmosphere is quite relaxed. Here I met many friends, which made me less homesick. Of course, I always miss home and friends. But after some time you get used to the absence or you have to get used to, because you have no choice. But today there is internet or msn and the like, where you can talk with everybody every day and that makes it much easier.”


Where do you live and how is your day?

I live in the dormitory, which is a very nice place. In the room we are three, Luan from Brazil, Diarra from Senegal and me. We understand each other well and we became good friends. Around the dormitory there are two large stadiums, three smaller, fitness center and a smaller bar, now being built in hotel. All of this is owned by the football club.”

“My day is as follows: during the week we are waking up around 7 in the morning. We go to breakfast, drink tea there, and a croissant. At half eight it is off to school. When I come home with the team I eat lunch, after lunch a little rest then to the training. After training we learn, sometimes we also help the teacher we have in the boarding house. I have dinner at eight. After dinner, I am free. On Saturdays I have school and after school we go to watch various games (juniors, seniors). On Sundays there is match with my team and after the game we are free and go to town.

Whom attend school, and is it hard to coordinate football and school?

In Italy, the school is organized completely differently than in Slovenia. At home I should have attended the ninth grade, here I am in a chemical-mechanical school at the heart of Empoli. School and exercise are coordinated, because the club is well organized, because they wish that every player will have an education. But for us foreigners it is much more difficult, since they do not yet know how to speak Italian.

What are your goals for the future? What would you like to achieve in football?

My objective is to play for a senior team and some time in the future to play in the English football league.“(!)

Sounds like a nice lad! I hope he will be well taken care of at Wolves. Very interesting that he said that he someday wants to play in English football! That day came much earlier than he could imagine, I believe. Good luck, then, to Aljaž Cotman. And I am sorry about the bad Google translation, I’ve tried to fix it, but it’s not easy. And it takes time. 😆

Paddytheflea

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~ by paddytheflea on February 19, 2010.

One Response to “All about Aljaž Cotman – Wolves new keeper signing”

  1. ˝at high˝ is actually a village in Slovenija and it is calles Visoko. So if you want to correct it and is ˝na Visokem˝

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