Shellharbour junior Joel King hopes to repay the faith Sydney FC have shown in him as he prepares to begin his maiden campaign in the A-League on Friday night.
The teenage defender, who is yet to turn 18, has been named as part of the Sky Blues squad for their season opener against Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.
He only penned his first professional contract with the Sydney FC in September, but is keen to make an impact for the defending premiers this season.
“It’s been really humbling for me and I am just really excited for the season to get started,” he said.
“I was a bit surprised I got the full professional contract because a lot of kids got the scholarship [contract] but I am happy I did.
“I want to play this game for as long as I can and make the most out of it.”
King will be one of the youngest players on the Sky Blues roster for the 2018-19 campaign.
The left back will get the opportunity to work alongside and learn from Socceroos defenders Michael Zullo and Alex Wilkinson as well as experienced Dutchman Jop van der Linden.
“The first thing I want to do this year is just to improve my game a lot,” King said.
“If I can get on the bench that would be good and if I can play that would be even better.
“But as long as I can help the team and help them to be successful, I will be happy.”
King’s belief he could one day secure a professional contract began to build when he was signed to a scholarship by the AIS back in 2015.
He joined the Sky Blues two years later, where he played with the A-League giants youth league team.
It was there that he caught the eye of new Sydney coach Steve Corica.
Corica has previously coached the Sky Blues youth team and was an assistant to former coach Graham Arnold before taking over the reigns in the off-season when the latter departed to mentor the Socceroos.
“I didn’t really experience training under Arnie but Steve has been very good to me,” King said.
“All the the coaching staff has been really good as well with guys like [youth team coach] Rob Stanton. I can’t fault the help they have all given me.
“They have given me a lot of confidence and helping me make that bridge from the youth team to the first team.”
King, who was born and raised in Shell Cove, has moved up to Sydney full time since penning his first deal.
Meanwhile, Helensburgh junior Aaron Calver will also return to Sydney FC for his seventh A-League season. Calver has also been named in Sydney’s round one squad.