IN A team bristling with youthful talent not much has been heard about Melbourne Victory’s Jordy Brown. The 2013/14 campaign could change all that.
The precociously talented teenager – he turned 17 last month – clinched a three-year deal last December while still injured and has just returned from a horror lay-off.
If he gets a taste of top flight football this season, the hometown kid will be the youngest ever take to the field for Victory.
Head coach Ange Postecoglou first spied the AIS prodigy when he was a raw and energetic 11-year-old and sees a big future for the composed defensive mid.
“He’s technically sound and has a good football brain,” Postecoglou said. “He certainly has the ability to play at the highest level and I expect him to play some senior football this year.”
It’s music to the ears of Brown. Sidelined for 16 months, his first full training shift for the club came just two days before the epic Liverpool match at the MCG in July.
For the former Monash City junior, it was a spine tingling reintroduction to the game.
“I was lucky enough to be able to sit on the bench but I wasn’t fit enough to actually get on the field,” the Year 12 Caulfield Grammar School student said.
“The experience and the atmosphere were just unreal. That singing – You’ll Never Walk Alone – that was once in a life time.
“I didn’t really get to speak to any Liverpool players but to shake their hand was good enough for me. And just warming up with the Victory team was like a big thing.
“As soon as the Liverpool team came out, the crowd just went crazy. It’s just an amazing feeling being on one side of the field and seeing Steven Gerrard warming up on the other side.
"That was probably one of the biggest moments for me.”
Football is in the Brown family DNA. His sister Ashley, 18, is a star for the Victory’s W-League side and the Matildas, while younger sister Jamie, 14, is a state league goalkeeper.
And the former Joey was on the fast track until he was struck down by osteitis pubis. It is a sign of Postecoglou’s faith in the teenager that he took a punt on him all the same. Since then it’s been a long and arduous daily rehabilitation program to get back on the park.
A bright star in a stable of rising and ambitious players, Brown describes training as intense.
“There are a bunch of players between 17 and 21 that have just got heaps of energy and always willing to do anything to get on the park,” he said.
“I think it’s really good – it adds a good atmosphere at training. No position on the field is a given. Everyone has to work for their position.
“Obviously with a bunch of youngsters, Ange puts a lot on the field and gives them a run – it’s a brilliant environment to be in.”
The wait has been worth it: “To me there’s no doubt – everyone recognises (Victory) is one of, if not the biggest clubs in the country.
“The coaching with Ange and (Kevin) Muscat – it’s just top in Australia. The players like Archie Thompson and Mark Milligan – these guys are legends in the game in Australia. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Not that he is getting ahead of himself. The self-confessed Gunners fan has modest goals for one carrying such big raps.
“When I was sitting on the sidelines watching the Victory youth team last year, they were top notch,” he said.
“They won the league and played some really nice football. So I’d really like to secure my spot in the youth team and then hopefully, if the boss thinks I’m ready, get a few sniffs in the senior team.
“If he thinks I’m ready for it he’ll decide that. But playing in the youth team and having a good season there I’d be happy with that.”
Late last year the Australian Jewish News heralded Brown’s signing as the “first Australian Jewish player to enter the A-League”.
Fate conspired to put the brakes on the fanfare. But the teenager, who started his playing career kicking the ball around with dad in the park across the road from his house, is reluctant to write it off as a wasted year.
“It was the hardest time of my life,” he says of the injury, “but it really showed me how much football meant to me.
“When you have something, obviously you enjoy it, but when it’s gone you realise how much it means to you.
“If I’m looking for the positives that came out of being injured for such a long time – that was it.”