Noah Botic is one of the world's most promising young strikers, as he showed in spades during the Australia's barnstorming U/17 World Cup campaign, and he knows just how much that could mean to his home nation.
When Botic struck a beautiful effort against England's U/17s in his Joeys debut, a few whispers began to emerge that Australia might just have a wunderkind in the making. Might.
One month later, the 17-year-old was scoring four goals in three consecutive matches at the 2019 U/17 World Cup.
After phenomenally cool-headed strikes in both the Joeys' opening group matches, a 2-1 loss to Ecuador and a 2-2 draw with Hungary, Botic saved his best performance for the last match.
It was a do-or-die contest following average results for a team that many never even expected to qualify for the tournament in the first place. And it was against the greatest U/17 team in world history, six-time world champions, Nigeria.
So what does Botic do? Score a brace, win Australia the match, and move the Joeys through to the Round of 16 for the first time since 1999.
IT'S IN! 😲⚽— SBS - The World Game (@TheWorldGame) November 1, 2019
Noah Botic has given Australia a 1-0 lead over Nigeria at the FIFA U-17 World Cup! 🇦🇺🙌 pic.twitter.com/6ATs9BhH1H
Australia are back in front! 🇦🇺🙏— SBS - The World Game (@TheWorldGame) November 1, 2019
Noah Botic has got himself a double! ⚽⚽ pic.twitter.com/gfguPYTXtS
“I really enjoyed the time in Brazil because I got to play with friends, with whom I've played together for years, at the biggest tournament in my age class," he tells Transfermarkt.
"That’s not taken for granted and I appreciate it."
The dimished Joeys went out to France in the knockout round, but Botic is predictably satisfied nonetheless.
“I’m satisfied with my performances and the four goals," he continues. "My teammates helped me a lot as well, however. Without them, I wouldn’t be the player I am.”
The performances won Joeys coach Trevor Morgan the interim technical director role at FFA - the coach praises Botic virtually every chance he gets - and Botic himself a move to one of the greatest development clubs in world football, the Bundesliga's Hoffenheim.
“It makes me incredibly happy that the coach recognises me as this disciplined and motivated. It shows me that he believes in me," Botic says. "Vice versa, I have have have a lot of trust in him and in our national team myself.
“There was a lot of positive feedback and many people congratulated me and wrote that I played well. First of all, my family of course, who were very proud, which gave me a good feeling. The media also covered the tournament a lot. This also made me happy.”
While many global clubs attempt the 'buy young and low, sell old and high' modus operandi, only a very rare few can balance the method with on-field success. Hoffenheim and fellow Bundesliga high-flyers Borussia Dortmund practically wrote the book, so Botic feels he's at the right place.
With three goals in nine appearances for their U/19 team since joining, he's also managed to continue his form onto the league stage and become a regular for the club.
“Here, a very good development system and a good structure exist, which are completely designed for the development of young players," he says.
"In addition to that, the quick playing style of Hoffenhiem suits me well. That all tipped the scales in favour for TSG in the end,” Botic explained, after the youngster also trialled at Manchester United among others.
"The differences between Australia and Germany are obvious," he continues. "Here, the whole youth sector is better organised and a lot of time and effort is invested in the development of young players. In addition to that, the intensity in every training session is very high. Higher than in Australia. That helps me to become a better player."
As for acclimatising to a different life in a regional German town, well, Sydney-boy Botic has always felt a little different.
“Of course, there is a huge difference between Sydney and Hoffenheim, but that doesn’t matter to me at all. I’m a rather calm guy and don’t need the city life that badly. A calmer environment actually suits me better,” Botic says.
“To live this far away from my family is difficult of course. I have to make a lot of sacrifices and this one is the biggest. Sometimes I’m homesick, but I have to go through this and say to myself that this will be worth it in the end.
“In the best case, I want to make the step to the Bundesliga here in Hoffenheim of course. I know that this won’t be easy, but with the support of my family and the people I have at TSG, I hope it will be possible."
Still only 18-years-old, Botic appears set for a phenomenal career with a national team path all the way to the top, in a country where prolific strikers are worth their weight in gold.
But after growing up in a rugby heartland and choosing football when those around him were flooding to rugby, Botic - who's father was a footballer and cousin, Tomi Juric, is an accomplished Socceroo, has even higher aspirations than that:
“In the national team, I want to play for the Socceroos and represent my country at the highest level," he says.
“Because my father played as well, since he gave me a ball for the first time, I love the game. Football was a lot of fun from the beginning and It’s the only sport I did permanently and that I love. They sacrificed a lot of time for me and my targets. To see now that this pays off and that my parents are proud of me makes me very happy.
"In the best case, I also want to encourage other kids to set the target to play for Australia and to enjoy the sport, just as I do it.”