Jets humble hero sets goals high

For a bloke coming off the best 12 months of his young career, Jets midfielder Josh Brillante is refreshingly humble.

For a bloke coming off the best 12 months of his young career, Josh Brillante is refreshingly humble.

That-s not to say that Brillante isn-t pumped after a break-out year where he has impressed on both club and national stages.

Of course he is excited and he deserves to be too.

But there-s also a sense of appreciation from this gun Jets midfielder, who has taken Australian football by storm in 2013.

You see, it wasn't so long ago that Brillante was without a club and fearful for his future after former team Gold Coast United folded.

So while he couldn-t be happier with his efforts at the Under-20 World Cup in Turkey and his Socceroos debut in July, he also knows he is fortunate to be where he is today.

“It has been a bit of a roller-coaster year for me,” Brillante says.

“I mean when Gold Coast folded, a lot of things were going through my head.

“But all I wanted to do was play and with all that going on I just didn-t know what to think.

“I was lucky enough to get picked up by the Jets, which I-m thankful for.

“I didn-t expect to get that many games, but I-ve worked hard and worked my way into the team.”

On the back of 22 appearances in his maiden season at the Jets last season, Brillante has continued to impress in the A-League this year.

The lad from Bundaberg in Queensland has also left his mark on the national game, starring in the Under-20 World Cup back in June.

While the young Socceroos failed to make it beyond the group stage, Brillante stood out and even scored a cracking goal from 25-metres out against El Salvador.

“To go away to a tournament like that was amazing,” he reflects.

“I never expected to do something like that.

“I was just happy to be there and I think we were playing some really good football.

“It was a bit disappointing that we didn-t get passed the group stages, but overall it was an awesome experience.”

From there, Brillante was fortunate to earn his maiden Socceroos call-up against China at the East Asian Cup earlier this year.

The disappointing 4-3 loss against the Chinese was far from the dream result, but it has proved to be a vital learning curve for the 20-year-old.

“There were a lot of young new guys into that squad, so it was difficult,” he says.

“But when you get selected you just want to do your best and we all did.

“If things aren-t going well, you can-t put your head down and you have just got to move on and work hard.”

Putting in the hard yards is certainly something Brillante has done since that loss against China.

He has been a standout for the Jets and it-s form that was rewarded in Sydney during the week when he was crowned the Australian Under 20s Footballer of the Year.

“It (the award) hasn-t really sunk in yet,” he says.

“Family and friends have been contacting me and I-m still taking it all in.

“It-s just more of a motive for me to keep working hard and do better for the next year to come.”

Now in his second season at Newcastle, Brillante is fully focused on playing well and helping the Jets make the finals.

He says he has particularly enjoyed playing alongside former English Premier League star Emile Heskey.

“When Heskey was coming here I didn-t know what to think,” admits Brillante, who also has his mind on the clash with table-topping Brisbane Roar at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

“I was feeling a bit intimidated, but he is such a nice bloke and he is so easy to talk to.

“So that-s what makes it easy for me.

“I remember seeing him on TV all the time and watching him, so for me to be playing with him and talking to him all the time is crazy.”

From his own experiences, Brillante knows a lot can change in the space of just 12 months.

“Yeah a year in football, well anything can happen,” he grins.

“With the World Cup around the corner, we-ll wait and see.

“That would be the ultimate goal, but I-ll just work hard, keep playing football and the rest will sort itself out.”