Goalkeeper, 17, bound for Sydney FC
IMAGINE you're a goalkeeper standing nervously in goal and coming at you is Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero looking to fire one of his trademark thunderbolts past you.
Seems too good to be true, right?
Well, for one lucky 17-year-old, his dream will soon become a reality.
Later this month Maryborough product Tristan Prendergast will join A-League club Sydney FC after agreeing to sign a Youth League contract with the Sky Blues for the 2013-2014 season.
While his football journey started at seven with Doon Villa, Prendergast can't contain his excitement about the prospect of training alongside the likes of Del Piero and former Socceroo Brett Emerton when he joins Sydney's first team for training on June 24.
"It is all pretty surreal; I don't think it has set in yet," he said.
"To move on to the next level, it's a great chance for me to start challenging myself against some of the best players and be lucky enough to train with the first team with Del Piero and Brett Emerton.
"I can't wait."
Raised in Maryborough before moving to Tasmania with his parents four years ago, Prendergast suddenly became hot property after impressing at an FFA Advanced Goalkeeper coaching course.
Several A-League clubs showed interest in him, but it was former AC Milan gloveman and Sydney FC goalkeeping coach Zeljko Kalac who swayed Prendergast to join the Sky Blues.
While he is regarded as one of the most promising gloveman in Australia, the former Wide Bay representative started as a striker before developing Sever's disease and Osgood-Schlatter when he was 10.
Both, Sever's disease, a common cause of heel pain, and Osgood-Schlatter, a painful knee condition, usually occur during growth spurt.
Sore and running in pain all the time, Prendergast knew what he had to do.
"I didn't want to stop playing the sport because I loved it so much, so I became a goalkeeper," he said.
"Since then I've never come out of goals and fell in love with being a keeper.
"I guess it has been a blessing in disguise."
Prendergast played alongside current Melbourne Heart wing back Jeremy Walker in Football Federation Tasmania's National Training Centre program.
Only time will tell if Prendergast will get the chance to compete on the same stage, but one thing that is for sure - he'll never forget his roots.
"I still remember going out to the grounds in Granville every Saturday morning," Prendergast, who still has family in Maryborough, said.
"In the later years my mum was involved, so most of my Saturdays I was out there playing and helping out as much as I could.
"I made a lot of friends while playing football and had some good coaches who helped me in Maryborough and when I was playing in Wide Bay."
Prendergast is expected to formalise the Youth League deal with Sydney FC later in the year.
Under Football Federation Australia rules, Youth League contracts can't be signed until August.