Teenage Australian striker James McGuire has set his sights on making it in Spain after signing with fourth division side UD Montijo.
At the end of 2018 at the age of 17 McGuire swapped life in the Victorian NPL for a chance in Europe.
After trialling with La Liga club Levante and lower league side AD Alcorcon, the 18-year-old landed a deal with UD Montijo in September, near the Portuguese broder.
McGuire has began with the club's Under-19s and is determined to make a name for himself in Spain.
"UD Montijo is strong and has an emphasis on youth development," he told FTBL.
"A lot of the senior team are relatively younger than the league average. Also, the U19s are one of stronger teams in the league, only losing one game, so far sitting second in the league table.
"The standard I have experienced at Montijo is very high. Technical ability is a given standard for good players across Europe, accordingly there is a strong emphasis on tactical awareness and overall flair.
"For me, I love the life in Spain and the football. The football quality is high in terms of training, performance and matches, and the lifestyle and culture is something I admire and am a fan of."
McGuire grew up in Melbourne and spent time as a junior with the likes of Pascoe Vale, Richmond and Altona Magic.
A striker comfortable playing on either flank, he admits his move overseas has been a steep learning curive.
"I have learned a lot on and off the field," the forward said.
"This is a unique experience. It’s a journey that is hard to describe to others who have not been on a similar journey as a 17 or 18-year-old - leaving home without family and being alone in a country where English may not be readily spoken.
"However, I have learnt that to get through the hardships of football you have to be mentally strong. A good support structure also helps with the club support and my agent’s support - it helps in the difficult times.
"It's unfamiliar at first but you have to apply yourself to survive culturally, language-wise and football-wise too. Originally I was only going to go on trial for a month at Levante UD, however my performances in matches resulted in interest from the club to keep me for a longer period of time.
"In addition an opportunity presented itself with Alcorcon in Madrid, which is where I decided to go for the next two months. This all came about as I was wanting to go to college in America.
"However, I always had a dream to play in Europe and I wanted to know what it was like."
While football remains on hold in Spain because of the Coronavirus, McGuire is ready to continue his development when the action finally resumes.
"My long terms goals and ambitions are to play in Europe professionally and make a career out of football and make my name known," he said.
"I would love to play for my country in the future also and represent Australia overseas in cups and tournaments."