Harry Sawyer grew up idolising Brisbane Roar, supporting on the Suncorp terraces as his heroic captain. Matt Smith. won multiple A-League championships for the Queensland juggernaut.
Now the pair are set to face off in Saturday’s Hong Kong Senior Shield Cup Final, Asia’s oldest knockout cup competition.
The 195cm, 22-year-old central striker is set to battle against Smith, 36, a player he used to idolise back in Brisbane. Their contest will have a major bearing on the result when Tai Po (Sawyer’s club) face Smith's Kitchee at Hong Kong Stadium.
Childhood heroes aside, Sawyer's raring to go.
“Matt was at Brisbane Roar before I joined Roar’s youth team, when I was a kid in Brisbane, I’d always watch the Roar,” Sawyer told FTBL from Hong Kong.
"Matt helped us at Peninsula Power when I was 17, the week before our 2014 grand final, which we won 5-0.
"I lived right next to Ballymore where Roar trained so I was always down there watching him and the boys train.
“I’ve seen him play many times. So it'll be special for me.
"But in a cup final, it just comes down to the 90 minutes. It’ll be a good contest.”
On paper, there's little between the two sides. Kitchee are fourth, while Tai Po are currently fifth in the Hong Kong Premier League.
Sawyer played his semi final, bizarrely, on Christmas Day and he’s hoping for the gift of a winner’s medal to top off an excellent season to date: seven goals from just 10 games.
The tall forward made the Roar youth side but transferred to Newcastle Jets before landing in Asia in 2017, first in the Philippines and now in Hong Kong.
He came to Asia for game-time and he’s getting just that. Meanwhile, Smith arrived at Kitchee in recent weeks after a stellar stint in the rapidly growing Thai League.
He joined Bangkok Glass in 2015 following a glorious era in Queensland with the Roar. But the Aussie flavour in Saturday’s final doesn’t end with Sawyer and Smith.
Jared Lum, 26, a former Young Socceroo and one-time Sydney FC U-20 captain, has been with Kitchee since 2017. Also at Kitchee is one-time Melbourne Heart striker Josip Tadic.
The move to Hong Kong revitalised Lum’s career after he was left to play NPL.
But keeping his head, quite literally, among a throng of Aussies, Sawyer is revelling in his new surroundings.
“There’s a lot of passion for football in South East Asia,” he added. “And with my height, it’s a bit of an asset . It’s good to have that as a weapon.
“Around half my goals so far this season have been from my head.”