Nectar Triantis credits his magnificent seven brothers for steeling him for the pressure of professional football after losing his father in a tragic fire.
The Central Coast Mariners centre-back, who will play in Saturday’s A-League Men grand final against Melbourne City, said his mother often reminds him how proud dad Con would have been of his rise.
Triantis, who turned 20 last month, lost his father in a fire when he was just eight years old, leaving mum Poppy to raise 10 children on her own.
“I never had that person in my life growing up but I had seven older brothers,” Triantis told AAP.
“I feel like they became my father-figure and they were always into football. I was playing with their friends and that helped me mature quickly.
“Mum’s a typical mother, she is always proud of me but she always says she would have loved for dad to see me play and see the player I am now.
“It’s emotional in that regard but I do play for him.”
Triantis, who also has two sisters, predicts he will have a heavy turnout of family for this weekend’s showpiece match at CommBank Stadium in Parramatta, which acts as a homecoming of sorts.
The defender was on the books of the Western Sydney Wanderers before being released and given a lifeline by Nick Montgomery in Gosford.
The Mariners boss rates Triantis highly and predicts it won’t be long before the youngster follows players such as Kye Rowles, Garang Kuol and Lewis Miller to Europe.
Montgomery’s backing this season has ensured Triantis has set his goals high.
“A personal goal is to be in the Asian Cup squad with the Socceroos (in January),” said Triantis, who has yet to win a senior cap with Australia.
“Playing in the Socceroos would be an exceptional moment for me.
“You have to have that as a player, that arrogance. But you can’t let it take over your personality and when you step over that white line there’s no friends.”
City will start the grand final as heavy favourites but Montgomery’s belief has the Mariners eyeing an upset.
“We are attracting more believers and we’re starting to turn heads,” Triantis said.
“I don’t see it as David versus Goliath, I see it as two teams fighting for a championship.
“Who says we can’t go and win it?”