After several setbacks in the first half of 2016, Sydney FC midfielder Josh Brillante is playing football with a smile again.
After making dream a move to Italy in 2014, Brillante enjoyed a bright start to his career but soon fell out of favour with Fiorentina.
Over the next two seasons the former Newcastle Jet was loaned twice before finishing the 2015/16 season in the Serie B with Como.
There was also the heartbreak in January 2016 when Brillante saw his dream of playing at an Olympics shattered after the Olyroos failed to qualify for RIO 2016.
But Brillante has left the disappointing period in Europe behind thanks to regular game time and the record breaking season he has been experiencing with Sydney FC.
“It’s great mentally,” he said. “When everyone is enjoying playing with each other on the pitch it makes such a big difference. Playing with a smile is important to do because everyone forgets about that. We’ve got quite a great job playing sport. It’s something that most players love doing and to be able to do that with a smile on your face is important to remind yourself of.
“To be doing so well makes it even better and the fact that everyone is enjoying themselves makes and plays a big role in it all.”
Brillante’s contribution to Sydney’s form cannot be measured by goals or assists. That is not his role. Rather, his work in the midfield defence and leading attacks has contributed to the Sky Blues' success this season.
Reflecting on his season, Brillante is hopeful doors may open for another stint overseas and a possible Socceroos recall.
“I’ve just got to play my game and do everything I can to have good performances,” he said. “That is out of my hands. It’s up to Ange (Postecoglou) with what he wants to do with his players and his squad and it’s definitely something that is possible for the future.
“I don’t want to get to far ahead of myself. So, I’m just concentrating on doing well for the team here. It’s still early in the season. It’s good for every player it’s in the back of your mind but I’m just going out there and enjoying myself.”
Sydney lead the league by five points and remain unbeaten after 15 rounds.
Brillante put the Sky Blues success down to a collective effort rather than individual brilliance.
“They have all had huge influences on the team,” he said. “Honestly I could not pinpoint one player that has shined above the others. Because everyone in their own role has done exceptionally well, whether it’s some games or other games. It’s a team sport so everyone has played a huge role in the way we have been going so fa. From Vukovic at the back, to Brosquey up front.
“Everyone had been taking on a leadership role. You can see the enjoyment when we are scoring goals. Whether it’s the third goal or the fourth goal in a game, you can see all the players running and celebrating with each other and it’s a great thing to have.”