Nearly four years ago, Tasuku Sekiya touched down in Australia for the first time. Few have dazzled in the NSW NPL as often or with such elegance as APIA Leichhardt's pint-sized Japanese playmaker.
But Tuesday's FFA Cup 2018 Round of 16 clash against Melbourne Victory will be Sekiya's toughest examination yet, as he faces off against his footballing idol and compatriot Keisuke Honda.
Sekiya and his Tigers teammates are set to host Melbourne Victory, with their marquee man in tow, when the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions arrive at Leichhardt Oval next week.
“I can’t believe I’m playing against him,” Sekiya told the FFA Cup’s official website.
“A couple of months ago he was playing in the World Cup and I was watching, I can’t believe it now.”
Sekiya has scored 30 goals in the New South Wales top flight cross three seasons, and is widely regarded as one of the competition’s most skilful talents.
A mesmeric dribbler with a deadly drop of the shoulder, there's been no shortage of highlights during the 25-year-old's time in Australia.
But he says coming up against Honda in Sydney's inner west will be the biggest moment of his career to date.
“He’s like Tim Cahill or Lionel Messi in Argentina, one of the most famous footballers in Japan.
“I know it’s going to be very tough but it’s the biggest week in my soccer career, so I will give my 100%.”
Sekiya played for lower league Japanese outfit Weseda United before he was scouted by Australian-based player Naoki Imaya, and offered the opportunity to ply his trade down under.
In 2016, he revealed his dream of playing in the Hyundai A-League to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Should he get the better of his countryman on Tuesday, Sekiya may just ignite that ambition again.