Western Spirit’s identical twins double trouble for rivals
WHEN Western Spirit's top team makes its Brisbane Premier League debut this weekend, opposing players will be forgiven for seeing double.
Identical twins Gabriel and Anthony Menendez may play either side of co-captain Jose Fernandez and fellow centre back Tyler 'Thor' Baker for Western Spirit this year.
Spirit's season-opening game is against UQ at Kippen Park on Saturday night.
Left back Anthony and right back Gabriel once considered different hairstyles to help people tell them apart.
But having played all their football together and just graduated from business degrees, the skilful brothers enjoy sharing similar traits.
"It could be good and bad whatever way you look at it,'' Gabriel said.
"But it's definitely positive having a brother there with you throughout your football journey, throughout your life and someone you can always count on.
"And we think identically. I know what he's thinking now.''
That gives Western Spirit a huge advantage as the club launches its Brisbane Premier League (BPL) campaign in the 6pm clash at Goodna on Saturday.
As the affable 21-year-old brothers chatted before a training session, it was a challenge ensuring they were both correctly quoted. Not that they would really mind who said what.
As identical twins often do, Anthony and Gabriel both finish each other's sentences or train of thought.
They are clearly a united force on and off the football field.
The twins started their football careers with El Salvador Soccer Club in Yeronga.
They played in the area from age four until they were 14 before moving to Souths United for a few seasons. They progressed into under-18 and senior football with Brisbane Knights.
"We've never played separately so we've always been together,'' Gabriel said.
Two decades ago, Anthony was the first of the twins to arrive in the world. They have been great mates growing up.
"We help each other at training and are always trying to get the best out of the boys at the club,'' Gabriel said.
"In pre-season especially, we are doing a lot of fitness drills.''
Asked who was the best footballer, Anthony wisely answered: "We're pretty even. We work together. We have very similar qualities.''
It's only when the brothers play on different sides of the field that helps teammates, coaches and everyone else tell them apart.
Anthony is left-footed. Gabriel is right-footed in the way he favours kicking a ball.
In their second season with Western Spirit, they both enjoyed playing in last year's first team in Capital League 1.
"It was good. The level was still up there I'd say,'' Gabriel said.
"But BPL is differently the next level and we're looking forward to it this season.''
With Latin America origins in El Salvador, the Aussie-born twins got a taste of BPL football when they were with the Brisbane Knights before joining Spirit.
Anthony said he loves the game having grown up in such a supportive football background.
"We've played and been surrounded by it since we were little kids so it's always been a part of our lives. That's probably why we like it so much and love it.''
Although defenders, the twins like "getting up the field as well'', often setting up or slotting in a valuable goal.
"It's bombing up and down the wing helping the attackers as well when we can,'' Anthony said. "Get some crosses in and try and get some goals as well.''
Anthony said making his first-team debut aged 18 was a highlight.
"We were that young playing with the men,'' he said.
The twins recently graduated in business courses and are job hunting while enjoying their football.
"We are very similar people when you get to know us,'' Gabriel said.
"We used to have different haircuts . . . but these days a lot of people tell us apart by different boots. That's probably the easiest way.''
As they prepared for a training session, Anthony was wearing green boots with Gabriel decked out in orange footwear.
I hope that's right fellas. I may have got confused like the opposition will when they see double on the field this season.