Marco Tilio's ALM career comes full circle in finals
Marco Tilio will soon close the A-League Men chapter of his burgeoning career, but first he'll go back to where it all started.
The Melbourne City sensation has at most just three games left before he plans to depart for Europe, ideally with another medal.
First up, Tilio will face his former club Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium in the first game of a two-legged semi-final, in front of family and friends.
Tilio played just three league games, for a total of 12 minutes, in 2019-20 with his hometown club before joining City on a three-year deal.
Since then he has played 73 games, earned Socceroos caps and a World Cup berth, won three premierships and could yet claim his second championship.
Tilio, 21, doesn't have anything to prove to Sydney, but is the face of their failure to retain top talent - something he could remind them of yet again on Friday night.
"Going back home, most importantly it's always a joy to play in front of my family and friends, that's first and foremost," he told AAP.
"Then coming up against my old team where I spent most of my junior years, I go out and I get to show them I guess you could say what they missed out on, that's what I'll try to do.
"But I'll do what I need to do for the team first before any of that."
Tilio is locked in on City's finals campaign, but is ready for what's next.
"Obviously it's a goal of mine to go over to Europe and really test myself," he said.
"I've done a long-enough apprenticeship here in Australia where I feel I'm ready to go and test myself, start at the bottom again.
"I've had to mature a lot quicker than a lot of other people probably have, as a young person moving across away from family.
"I've been alone for three years here in Melbourne and I've really enjoyed myself, I really love it here."
Tilio has gone to another level this season, scoring nine goals and assisting five others while thriving with more game time under Rado Vidosic.
"I've been getting a lot of opportunities to be starting and over the course of the season I've been growing, not just on the field but off the field, doing little things that help me improve," he said.
"At the back end of the season now we're starting to see results."
There's plenty on the horizon for the prodigiously talented winger.
More Socceroos caps beckon while Tilio, who scored a rocket against Argentina at the Tokyo Olympics, wants to help the Olyroos qualify for Paris 2024, where he would still be young enough to compete.
"It'd be good to be in and around that (Olyroos) squad while with the Socceroos and get Australia to the next Olympic games," he said.
"It would be amazing - I don't think many people can say they've been to two Olympic games as a footballer, so it would be pretty special."