Bruno burning for A-League glory

Melbourne Victory A-League Mens Press Conference
Victory pair Bruno Fornaroli (left) and Nishan Velupillay are ready for Saturday’s A-League grand final. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Bruno Fornaroli insists he’s the man for a big occasion, and in his A-League career, none will be bigger than Saturday night’s grand final.

It has taken nine years, but the evergreen attacking ace will finally line-up in Australian football’s premier domestic match this weekend when his Melbourne Victory side meets the Central Coast Mariners at Gosford’s Industree Group Stadium.

Winning the A-League championship would be the crowning achievement for the 36-year-old Uruguay-born striker and naturalised Australian whose goalscoring feats have led to other honours, including playing for the Socceroos.

“It will be so special,” Fornaroli said.

“It’s something that I’ve fought very hard for. I have a couple of things in my mind that I want to reach before I stop playing football and winning the grand final is one of them.

“It’s my time … I like the big events.”

Securing grand final and championship success with Victory coach Tony Popovic would also be “special” for Fornaroli.

It was Popovic who threw Fornaroli a career lifeline in October 2022 when he was on the scrapheap at Perth Glory.

And the veteran marksman has repaid the faith his coach showed in him by scoring 25 goals in 44 A-League appearances for the club, including 18 this season.

Melbourne Victory A-League Mens Press Conference
Melbourne Victory duo Bruno Fornaroli (left) and Nishan Velupillay are eyeing A-League grand final success. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

“Tony has played a great part in the last couple of seasons for me and my football,” Fornaroli said.

“He’s helped me to reach my best in many ways and it would be special to win the trophy together.”

It could be the final time the pair have the chance to win something together, with Popovic’s Victory future clouded, with he and the club unable to agree to terms on a new deal.

There is also speculation that Fornaroli, despite having another year to run on his contract, is at loggerheads with Victory officials following rumours of an unsuccessful request to have his deal upgraded.

That’s another reason why it could be a case of now or never for Fornaroli in his quest to become an A-League champion.

“You can see now the fans in the street letting you know that you have to win the grand final,” he said.

“We have a great squad, great players and we have to go out and take it.”

And as much as Fornaroli, who hasn’t found the back of the net in his past six matches, would love to score on Saturday night, he would gladly swap a goal for a winner’s medal – though both would be nice.

“For me, more important than scoring a goal is trying to help the team in every single way to be champions,” he said.

“If I have to run for another 90-odd minutes without scoring to win the championship, trust me, I will take it … but more special would be if I can score and we win. That’s the one.”