An injury crisis of epic proportions conspired to hand Izaack Powell one of the sternest examinations of his life.
But it was a test the Grace Lutheran College student passed with flying colours.
Powell became the youngest ever Hyundai A-League player for Brisbane Roar in the club’s 2-1 giant-killing of Sydney FC last Friday at just 16 years and 361 days.
In it, the teenager helped secure a makeshift Roar defence and marshalled Sydney FC’s Golden Boot leader Adam Le Fondre and Iranian FIFA World Cup striker Reza Ghoochannejhad in the process.
No wonder Powell, who turned 17 on Tuesday, has to pinch himself.
“For me to be out there looking around at the crowd, playing alongside some of the players I’ve grown up watching, it was surreal,” Powell told the Courier Mail.
“I was pretty nervous wondering whether I was going to get brought on at all but I was pretty happy to come on early in the game so I could get some good game time under my belt.
“I’d been watching [Sydney FC] earlier this season tearing up the A-League – it was crazy to be out there.”
Powell might not have completed his studies but knows a thing or two about schooling opposition attackers on the basis of Friday night’s display.
But while the fullback may still be riding the high of his weekend endeavours, he’s not losing focus of his goal to get into university next year.
“I’m not sure which course yet. I try to do my best at school – it’s pretty important,” Powell continued.
“The school does help me a lot with my training commitments during the week. They are really understanding.”
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Head down: In-demand Goodwin focused on Adelaide’s silverware quest
Craig Goodwin has lit up the Hyundai A-League on his return to Australian soil.
The Adelaide attacker has scored nine goals and he's directly influenced 54% of the Reds’ total goals scored in his second stint with his hometown club.
It’s this kind of form which has put the 27-year-old – who returned to the City of Churches from a two-year stint with Dutch outfit Sparta Rotterdam in May last year – back on the radar of potential overseas suitors.
But Goodwin is only focused on inspiring United to Hyundai A-League silverware.
“Obviously there’s interest and it depends on what comes up,” Goodwin told FTBL.
“After coming back from Europe within the last six months and what I did there, I wasn’t really enjoying my football.
"I’m now enjoying it, I’m happy at Adelaide, happy we’re doing well and we won the FFA Cup earlier in the season.
“We’re in a good position now to set us up to do well in the finals, so that’s all we have to look at and all I’m looking at.”
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Goodwin has been one of the competition’s best performers this season but was not selected for the Caltex Socceroos AFC Asian Cup campaign.
However, the attacker believes continuing his excellent form for United is the best avenue to return to the national team set up.
“All I can do his keep playing here and try to do my best and keeping up my form, so that’s all I’ll keep doing,” Goodwin said.
“There’s going to be more opportunities in the future and I just need to keep performing well, scoring goals and getting assists as it’s the most important thing for my position.”
Another record in the making for Wellington Phoenix?
Records have tumbled at the behest of Wellington Phoenix this season.
But according to club general manager David Dome, the New Zealanders could be set to break another one in Friday night’s big clash with Melbourne Victory.
Dome has flagged the possibility of over 20,000 fans coming through the turnstiles when Phoenix arrive at the iconic Eden Park for the visit of the reigning Hyundai A-League Champions.
"The support has been phenomenal to date," he said in a Wellington Phoenix press release on Monday.
"It's always hard to gauge and is never an exact science, but given past ticket purchase patterns, Friday night's match could very well be the club's largest ever crowd outside a finals match."
"With only a few days to go until the showdown with Melbourne Victory, we’ve had to add more seats to the match to accommodate fan demand.
"With the tantalising prospect that fans will be able to get to see a red-hot Phoenix team playing some scintillating football, there is now also the real possibility that they will also see of Asia’s best ever players in Japan international Keisuke Honda.”
The last time Phoenix surpassed the 20,000 mark was in 2011, when Wellington also played at Eden Park in a 1-1 draw with Adelaide United.