Growing up in Mount Keira, football fanatic Thymos Caroutas dreamed of one day taking the field against some of the world's biggest names.
On Friday morning (AEDT), that dream is set to be realised. Thymos - better known as Tim - has been named in UE Cornella's extended squad for their Copa del Rey round-of-32 clash with La Liga powerhouse Barcelona at Camp Municipal de Cornella.
The Cup clash couldn't be more of a mismatch on paper; a Spanish third-tier team taking on 'Barca', a side headlined by global superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi will miss the game due to a red card he picked up in Sunday's Spanish Supercopa final, but Tim's dad Meni said it would be an incredible opportunity if his son was able to face Barcelona.
We've just said to him 'Enjoy the experience, mate. It's going to be incredible'... He's a little boy who is now living out his dream.- Meni Caroutas
"They're [UE Cornella] a good team, they beat Athletico Madrid the other week and he was on the bench for that. He didn't get on but they scored early, so I think the coaches were putting more defenders on," he said.
"But it's just a great experience for him to be part of the group and to be in the squad against Athletico Madrid and now Barcelona. We've just said to him 'Enjoy the experience, mate. It's going to be incredible'.
"This has always been his dream. He's a little boy who is now living his dream."
While only 18, Tim has taken the long road to Spain. The second eldest of four siblings, Tim spent his initial years in Brisbane before the family moved to Mount Keira when he was a toddler.
Tim started playing football at Figtree before moving into the Wollongong Wolves' Skills Acquisition Program.
He then spent a year with the Wolves, before a door opened that his family hadn't anticipated.
"We were never thinking about Europe or anything, he was only 11 at the time and his brother [Ben] was nine," Meni said.
"But I got a call from an agent called Greg Keenan, who lived in Barcelona, out of the blue one night. We were at home about 10.30, just watching a movie. He said he'd been talking to [former Football South Coast director of coaching] Glenn Fontana and he asked if there were any good kids in Australia. Glenn had mentioned my two boys, and Greg asked me 'How would you like to come over and I'll organise for them to train for a couple of weeks?'.
"When someone says that, you don't know if it's fair dinkum or not. But he said he just wanted to build relationships, he said they are talented kids. Greg even opened up his home in Barcelona to us."
Keenan provided an opportunity for the two brothers to train with Espanyol - UE Cornella's rivals - for a fortnight. The club's technical director was keen to sign Tim, but asked for Ben to come back when he was a bit older.
Espanyol were keen for Tim to start straight away, however, Meni said that wasn't an option at the time.
"I was doing freelance work at the time. I took time off, but we had to organise visas and stuff which took months. It was halfway through the season by then. Espanyol wanted us to start straight away and I just couldn't do it," he said.
"We went there and nothing was arranged, so Tim went and had a trial with Cornella. And they played a team from Barbados that was touring and a team in Cornella was playing three 20-minute thirds against them. Tim played the second third and scored a hat-trick. All of these guys were there with clipboards and they signed him - and that was it."
Meni spent the first three years with his son as they adjusted to living in Spain, before his wife and Tim's siblings joined them. The Caratous's were there for another 12 months before Tim stayed and the rest of his family returned to Australia.
"We were fortunate that we met another family from Newcastle who were over there for football too. Their daughter is a good player, she's over playing in Holland now. But up until the middle of last year, Tim lived with them. They were very good to us, they've looked after Tim like a second family," Meni said. "It's hard when your kid lives on the other side of the world and he was very young. But we were lucky that these friends took him into their home and looked after us."
Tim's ongoing commitment to UE Cornella - and living away from home - paid off when he was handed his senior debut last month. He was brought on to the field in the second half of the side's 1-0 win over Marino to kick off their Copa del Rey campaign.
That game showcased Tim's ability to continue to develop his game as a striker/attacking winger.
"He's always been a good athlete. Technically, he's very good which is a big thing over there. He reads the game well and he's very quick, " Meni said.
"But the main thing is he just loves football. If you love what you're doing, most of the time you'll be good at it."
Fontana was one person who spotted Tim's talent from a tender age. He coached him as part of FSC's Elite Program, and the pair later linked up again at the Wollongong Wolves.
Fontana said it was great to see the teen getting his chance at such a high level.
"He's a fulltime professional for their firsts team now. He's only just broke into the squad and he has obviously been going well," Fontana said.
"He's now in the squad to play Barcelona. Who knows whose going to play, it depends on what squad they put out? But you'd like to dream that you go on and Messi would be on the field on the other side - that would be something to tell your grandchildren, wouldn't it?"