People often say that playing sport creates lifelong friends. And for Luke Shuey and David Zaharakis, that statement couldn’t be more true.
“We played footy with each other from probably Year Seven onwards and in Year Ten we played in the ones together.Then we played together for Vic Metro in the under 18s footy,” says Zaharakis – or ‘Zahka’ as Shuey affectionately calls him.
“One day back in Year Eight, Zahka asked me for a couple of dollars for a sausage roll from the canteen and I coughed it up and he’s liked me ever since,” Shuey grins.
The two mates, who started their football careers at Marcellin College in Melbourne share a special bond that sees them act like brothers rather than just good mates.
“In about 2007 so when I was in Year 11, I started dating Mel, Luke’s sister. Luke didn’t like it at the start,” laughs Zaharakis.
“Yeah well once I got over the fact he was actually going out with my sister I think I thought she was pretty lucky she was with such a nice young guy. Don’t tell him I said that though,” Shuey jokes.
In a tragic turn of events, Mel passed away in a traffic accident when she was just 17 years old. Both Zaharakis and Shuey had just been recruited to Essendon and West Coast respectively.
“It gave me just a great perspective on life and on footy in general,” says Shuey.
“Me and Luke probably share that special bond and we’ll probably have that forever. Me and him were pretty close before that and then probably even closer after that” -Zaharakis on shuey.
“Me and Luke probably share that special bond and we’ll probably have that forever. Me and him were pretty close before that and then probably even closer after that,” says Zaharakis
Despite now on opposing teams, it is evident that both boys hold each other in high regard, not just in terms of best mates, but also on one another’s playing credentials.
“He was probably the best player I’ve played with. Probably Trent Cotchin and Luke Shuey I’d put in that category, as the best juniors I’ve played with,” says Zaharakis.
Vaughn Clearly, Marcellin Football Club Coach reiterates this, confirming that both boys showed promise at a junior level.
“I saw them play their first game in Year Seven and knew at that early stage that they were probably going to be pretty good footballers.”
Despite this shared passion for football, Clearly suspected that the boys didn’t share quite the same interest in their studies.
“Things were always a little bit different academically between the two boys, one was a bit of a high achiever and then one was perhaps just here for his footy,” says Clearly.
“Yeah, he didn’t really like school Luke,” says Zaharakis.
“I was a good student, I was polite to my teachers and stuff,” Shuey protests, adding sheepishly:
“We actually went out and partied on the last night of school and fell asleep on the lawn and slept there the night just before our last assembly. So that was probably the defining moment in mine and Zahka’s friendship.
The pair now lead two very separate lives – one in Western Australia and one in Victoria – but there is little doubt that the mateship embedded in them from their school days has continued, and will continue, to flourish off the field.
Words by Simone McInnes