Following a rollercoaster two years in Italy, Josh Brillante hopes his rebirth at Sydney FC can propel him back into Caltex Socceroos in 2017 - before that though there's a Westfield FFA Cup Final to win.
The 23-year-old has settled back into life in the Hyundai A-League in stunning fashion, playing an integral role in the Sky Blues’ impressive start to the 2016/17 Season, one which sees them in the Westfield FFA Cup Final on Wednesday night in Melbourne against Tim Cahill's City.
It’s a million miles away from where Brillante found himself after he was spotted at the 2013 FIFA U-20 Championships in Turkey, where he scored a long-range thunderbolt against El Salvador.
In 2014, he secured a dream move from the Newcastle Jets to Serie A club Fiorentina. The world seemed to be his oyster after his eye-catching season at the Jets.
But the dream quickly turned into a nightmare on his Serie A debut, substituted half an hour into the opening match of the season after an errant pass resulted in a goal conceded.
It was one of only two first team appearances Brillante would make for the club and an immediate example of the cut-throat nature of the professional game in Europe.
“You never think something like that is going to happen but that’s football, that’s the way things can work and you have to learn to deal with it,” Brillante told www.a-league.com.au.
“It was tough to start with and I was quite shocked and surprised.
“In Australia you get a lot of support from people outside of football and your family. I didn’t have any family over there and that was hard.
“No one comes up to you and says, ‘are you okay, do you need anything?’. That was the end of it and you just have to move on.”
And move on Brillante did.
First he went on loan to fellow Serie A club Empoli – once a home to Vince Grella and Mark Bresciano - before spending last season at Como in Serie B, where he made 21 appearances.
“I really enjoyed Empoli. The team there was like a family, it wasn’t such a huge club but everyone was so friendly there,” Brillante said.
“It’s kind of like how we are here at Sydney FC. The training there was really good and even though I didn’t play much there I really enjoyed it.
“Como was a beautiful little city down on the lake and I enjoyed living there.
“It was a bit of a frustrating year with everything that was going on with the club, a lot of changing of coaches but again that’s how things work and that’s what you have to deal with.
“Things didn’t go exactly as I planned but I’ve got no regrets going over there. I did a lot of learning football-wise and I’d like to think I learned a lot and brought it back here.”
It’s hard to argue with that given his exceptional start to the season with the Sky Blues.
Forming a thriving midfield partnership with fellow youngster - and house-mate - Brandon O’Neill, they’ve provided a strong foundation as Sydney have surged clear at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder.
With a Westfield FFA Cup final against Melbourne City to look forward to tomorrow night, right now things couldn’t be much better for the boy from Bundaberg.
But he also has international ambitions and a desire to get back into Ange Postecoglou’s calculations for next year’s remaining FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Brillante was on the cusp of going to Brazil in 2014 – selected in the preliminary 30-man squad – but missed the final cut.
“Getting back in the Socceroos is definitely something for the near future hopefully,” he said.
“I haven’t heard from [coach Ange Postecoglou] but I know he’s always watching. I’m sure he’s been watching all the A-League games.
“As a player you don’t really think about that, you just concentrate on each game each week for your club and if you do well for your team then personal things like that just follow."