Celeski revelling in change of fortunes

If any Melbourne player is entitled to be pinching himself at the prospect of playing in Saturday night's Hyundai A-League Grand Final it is midfielder Billy Celeski.

If any Melbourne player is entitled to be pinching himself at the prospect of playing in Saturday night's Hyundai A-League Grand Final it is midfielder Billy Celeski.

While teammates Archie Thompson, Danny Allsopp, Michael Theoklitos, Grant Brebner, Rody Vargas and skipper Kevin Muscat were all part of Melbourne's 2006/07 premiership victory and Tom Pondeljak has played in two losing Hyundai A-League grand finals for Central Coast, it wasn't that long ago that 23-year-old Celeski was plying his trade in the obscurity of the Victorian State League with Bulleen.

Throw in two stints with struggling Perth Glory - where Celeski performed well but his team rarely won games yet alone made the grand final - and Saturday night's premiership decider against Adelaide is a dream come true for one of Melbourne's most improved players this season.

And it comes just a month after Celeski made his international debut for the Socceroos against Indonesia in Jakarta.

Not surprisingly Celeski can hardly believe the change in his fortunes as he prepares for his first grand final.

"It was an up and down time for me at Perth but since I have been at Melbourne I have been really happy," Celeski said on Monday.

"We have won the premiership (for finishing on top of the ladder after the home and away season) and now this week will be the biggest game of my career so far and I am really looking forward to it."

Celeski was signed by Melbourne for its Asian Champions' League campaign, prior to the start of this season, but in just one full season with the Victory the 23-year-old has quickly established himself in coach Ernie Merrick's preferred starting line-up.

He admits to a few nerves ahead of Saturday's premiership decider but says the fact that half the team has previous grand final experience is a godsend for first-timers such as himself.

"It's great to have them around and it's definitely going to help the likes of myself - the boys that haven't played in a grand final before - to settle the nerves early so we can just play football," Celeski said of Melbourne's batch of experienced players.

"With Musky at the back, he is the leader of our team and a great professional and in games like you this you want guys like that to step up."

"And then up front obviously Archie and Danny have been in a grand final before and Archie scored five goals in a grand final (in the 6-0 win over Adelaide two years ago) so their experience is going to be invaluable to us."