For the majority of his life Matthew Hearne has been forced to choose between football and performing.
But on Friday evening when the Socceroos host Ecuador in front of 30,000 people at Parramatta Stadium, he will finally be able to do both of the things he loves at the same time.
The former Figtree junior and now current Pararoos player has been given the opportunity of a lifetime after being asked to sing the Australian national anthem before the fixture - which sees the return of the Socceroos back on home soil for the first time since their best ever World Cup run in Qatar late last year.
He was then asked to perform at Parramatta Stadium before the Socceroos' clash with the South American giants.
The former Wollongong High School student told the Mercury that he had always grappled his whole life between two of his passions. And in the end, performing won out on most occasions due to the fact that the Pararoos do not get paid to play for their national team and only run purely on donations.
"Singing has always been something that I've been passionate about and interested in," Hearne said.
"And the same goes with football. I've been playing since I was five. I played juniors at Figtree, and then when I was 13 or 14 I got picked up in NSW Paralympic football program for athletes with cerebral palsy. From there the next stepping stone was the Pararoos. And I got picked up in that team when i was 16 and we went to Denmark.
"It's a funny story how that ties into my singing. I went to Wollongong High School and auditioned as a music student from the time I was 14.
"When I first was integrated into the Pararoos they were gearing up for a World Cup and I basically ended up having to chose between going away with them for that or playing a lead role in my school musical. I ended up choosing the musical over football that time round. There's always been that parallel there."
After a lifetime of having to choose between his two passions, Hearne will finally be able to do both of the activities he loves at the same time. He said the Socceroos had always had a place in his heart from years of watching them at all hours in the morning during World Cups, Asian Cups and everything in between.
"I can't understate that it's 100 per cent a childhood dream. [I've lost count of] the number of times that I've sat up with my dad [to watch the Socceroos] with our jerseys on signing at the TV typically in the early mornings," Hearne said.
"It means a lot to me. There are some players there who I have grown up watching for a long time and who I absolutely loved watching at the recent World Cup. It feels like a culmination of both of my careers. Obviously I've worked very hard as a performer and a singer to get to a point where I can have the opportunity to do something like this and feel like I'm ready for it and give it everything I've got.
"There's obviously a great deal of responsibility to sing the national anthem but I'm very, very excited. I've had the right people in my corner to believe in me my whole life."
Speaking on the recent announcement that Australia would host both the men's and women's 2023 IFCPF Asia-Oceania Championships (Para Asian Cup) later in the year, he said it was a massive boost for para-football in the country.
"It's huge. I know the people that are making things happen behind the scenes are really passionate and I know that there will be a lot of effort put in to make sure the tournament is run smoothly and professionally.
"Anyone coming along to watch us as well will have a really good time. Both teams have worked really hard to get to a point where they can showcase some world class football on home soil with hopefully a decent crowd to cheer us on. So that's going to be absolutely massive for us."
It's the first time the men's and women's tournament has run in conjunction with one-another. The tournament will be held between October and November at La Trobe University in Melbourne.
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