EXCLUSIVE: Marconi Stallions coach Lee Sterrey believes rising star Jared Lum can be as big as former protégés - Sydney FC hitman and former Stallion Alex Brosque.
Last year, Ali Abbas lit up Bossley Park. The exciting Iraqi has since gone on to play for Newcastle Jets.
Nine years ago Brosque had a similar effect in the sky blue shirt of Marconi before moving to Europe then returning to the A-League and the Socceroos.
This year Sterrey hopes Sydneysider Lum can do even better over the next few years - despite being just 17.
"We've picked him up from the Institute [AIS]. He's an exciting talent. I don't think he'll last long in Australian football, put it that way," Sterrey told au.fourfourtwo.com at the launch of the 2010 NSW Premier League.
In fact, Lum has already been in the spotlight. He spoke eloquently at last year's Canberra launch of Australia's bid to host the 2018-2022 World Cup and is said to be highly regarded by our national youth coaches.
Lum is an attacking midfield player with high pace and a good skill factor. He can shoot with both left and right foot and was captain of the last Joeys.
"The best player I've handled through all my years bringing through players was Alex Brosque by a mile," said Sterrey.
"I played him at 17 at Marconi but this kid is certainly as good as Brosquey albeit in a slightly different position. On top of the three African players, he'll be an exciting talent for the fans to see this season."
Due to a reduced playing budget, Sterrey will have to contend with a 15-man senior squad. The coach admits life in the second tier just got that bit tougher but won't be using it as an excuse.
"It'll be a tough year but it's the nature of the beast," he said. "I've got to roll my sleeves up and do my best. If we have injuries it will make it difficult but we'll still have some exciting talent on the park in our starting 11.
"We should be there or thereabouts come the end of the season."
Sterrey, holder of an Asian 'A' coaching licence and about to take his Pro licence, added that the overlap between the A-League and the NSW Premier League wasn't beneficial to smaller clubs like Marconi who lose talent mid-season when A-League clubs start their pre-season.
"And it's difficult to keep our players' heads screwed on because they have this A-League glint in their eye," he added. "We don't want to stop players going forward but they've got to understand the situation."
Sterrey also described the national youth league as a "white elephant'.
"If I had a son 17 or 18 I'd rather have them playing in Premier League senior football, getting knocked around by senior players, then going overseas or direct to an A-League senior contract," he said.
As for Sterrey, the media-friendly former NSL mentor at Newcastle and Marconi for five years is still ambitious to continue his coaching career at the highest levels.
With this in mind, he has had some informal discussions with Sydney Rovers board members about a potential role with the new A-League club.
Sterrey added: "I won't say this will be my last year at Marconi, but close to it. I've always wanted to be a career coach."