Nick Ansell is working hard to make a name for himself in the big league after a long haul to get where he is today.
The Melbourne Victory defender, a product of the club's youth program before being rewarded with a senior contract, knows all about hard work.
Born and bred in Melbourne, Ansell was an active child who excelled at both football and Aussie rules.
"I was always pretty interested in sport," he says. "I used to play both AFL and soccer on weekends.
"When I turned 12, I had to choose between playing footy or soccer, so I chose soccer.
"It was around the time of the Germany World Cup, so that's what pushed me to make my decision.
"Seeing players compete overseas with their whole country behind them was something that I wanted to do, so that's what influenced me."
After choosing football, Ansell played for various teams including East Doncaster, Box Hill and Bulleen before being joining the Victorian Institute of Sport.
He continued to develop at the VIS, which led to his move to Victory.
"I signed a youth-pro contract with Victory when I was 16 and then got moved to the first team," Ansell says.
"I stayed with the first team until I was 18 but then I didn't get a professional contract, so I ended up back in the youth team for a while.
"Then Ange Postecoglou came back and six months later, I was given a full first-team contract for three and a half years, which I'm still on now.
"It was an awesome feeling to be offered a spot in the first team.
"Obviously losing the contract first was not fun and made me question whether I'd get the chance to play professionally.
"But being offered to come back, I was ecstatic, it was the best feeling."
While Ansell spent much of his childhood playing sport, his passion for football was not passed down through his family.
"No one really played soccer, they were all into AFL and that's one of the reasons I grew up playing footy as well as soccer, which I also enjoyed because I was a really sporty kid anyway," he says.
"Dad didn't really play any sport but my mum was a ballerina, so I got some of my sportiness from her."
Ansell thoroughly enjoyed playing indoor soccer with his old friends, some of which he still keeps in contact with today.
"I used to play indoor soccer with my school friends in Grade 5. I can always remember those days really clearly because it was a lot of fun," Ansell says.
"It was my school team, Carey Donvale, where we had seven of our good mates who would come together every week to play over about three or four years.
"We always used to win the trophy, we were really good."
Interestingly enough, the round ball has not always been Ansell's strong suit.
When he was younger, he was more talented and found playing Aussie rules easier.
"I used to win quite a few best-and-fairest awards when I was playing footy because I was better at it than soccer," Ansell says.
"I came second in the league (best and fairest) while I was playing footy and I still chose to pursue soccer, which meant I had to work harder to become better, but I enjoyed it more and there was more of a reward at the end."
When he's not training or playing, Ansell uses his free time to study in an effort to gain his degree, and he often finds himself at the beach or relaxing with family and friends.
"I usually spend time studying for my uni course," he says.
"I'm doing property development and real estate at Deakin, which I enjoy, but I've currently deferred a semester so I'm taking a break from that at the moment.
"I also like going down to the beach and just hanging out with my friends and family.
"You don't really get much time to spend with them because it's such a full-time job, so it's good to relax and see them when I can."
Asked about his biggest achievement so far, Ansell rates winning the Hyundai A-League 2015 Grand Final and being part of the starting line-up as something he is proud of.
“Winning the league and the Grand Final last year, and playing as one of the starting 11 players in that game was pretty awesome,” Ansell says.
"I had my mum, dad, sister, girlfriend and about six of my friends come and watch the game, which was great.
"I could see them in the crowd and it was a good feeling to make them proud."
Best advice ever given: My dad always used to say, ‘Someone needs to be tomorrow's superstar, so it might as well be you'. That's what he used to tell me all the time, so I remember that.
Favourite TV show: Geordie Shore's pretty good. I like watching that, they're always so drunk. Charlotte's probably my favourite because she always makes me laugh.
Secret talent: I used to be good at (Aussie rules) football, it's not a current one but it's an old secret talent.
Ideal travel destination: I've always wanted to go to Cancun, Mexico or maybe South America. I don't know if I have the guts to do it yet but maybe one day I'll go with a group of mates.
Favourite food: Fried chicken is pretty good.
Favourite hobby: My dad and I love cars. He's probably given that to me. I want to take them on a racetrack eventually. Fast cars are great.
Favourite music: I listen to a lot of hip-hop, house, Drake. I do like a bit of Justin Bieber too and I even listen to the radio stuff.