An A-League cast-off just four years ago, Dapto junior Matt Jurman is now poised to play a crucial role in one of Australian football’s biggest games since the turn of the century.
In one of the most dramatic and inspiring career turnarounds in recent memory, the 27-year-old is in the box seat to start in Tuesday’s do-or-die encounter with Syria after making a stellar national team debut this week.
Jurman – who was released by Brisbane Roar in 2013 and now plays professionally in Korea – made his maiden appearance in green and gold late on Thursday night Australian time.
Jurman rarely put a foot wrong in a composed performance which helped the Socceroos secure a 1-1 away draw with Syria in the first leg of their AFC fourth round qualifier at Hang Jebat Stadium.
His performance didn’t go unnoticed by Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou.
"I thought he did really well," Postecoglou told Fox Sports.
"He is a good kid. He has a good head on his shoulders.
"He knew he would be a bit nervous but he did his job really well. He kept it simple.
"I thought him and Josh Risdon - who sort of ran out of fresh legs at the end - they did a good job for us."
Jurman and Risdon were the Socceroos two least experienced national team players on the pitch in Malaysia, but were among their best players on the night.
It was a nervy occasion as Robbie Kruse’s first half goal was cancelled out by a controversial late penalty from Omar Al Somah, which sent the tie to a tense second leg at ANZ Stadium.
The Socceroos only need a scoreless draw or a win on Tuesday night in the second leg to keep their dreams of qualifying for Russia 2018 alive.
They haven’t lost on home soil throughout this qualifying campaign.
"We are always confident and we will go hard at home," Postecoglou said ahead of the do-or-die clash.
"We have got some fresh legs to throw in which I am sure will help. We are always confident.
"We are looking forward to going home.
“Our home form has been excellent for a long time now and we will look to continue that."