By Adrian Houghton
This time of year - the off-season - is usually a time for friends, family and rest for Jacob Poscoliero.
But the 22-year-old had no hesitation interrupting his holidays by joining Melbourne Heart on trial, potentially laying the foundations for a football career in the A-League.
The Wollongong-born central midfielder - also capable of playing in defence - has spent the past four and a half years developing in Italy.
Making the journey abroad at the tender age of 17, he was fortunate enough to have family living in Italy.
"I ended up having a trial with [former Serie A club] Messina by chance because it was the area in which my relatives lived," he told Goal.com.
"Also with my Italian background, it definitely made the transition a smooth one.
"As a result I was picked up and spent a year in the youth team. I was then able to live with my relatives and they made me feel welcome at ease in a new environment."
A year on, the former Blacktown City Demons midfielder made his senior debut for Serie D outfit Sandona.
"I am grateful for the experience I have learnt in Italy," Poscoliero said, who spent his junior days at hometown club Wollongong FC and Parramatta Eagles.
"The coaching methods here are focused more on balance and positioning - I could see the improvement in my game from the offset. The coaches always look to perfect each drill and this has rounded my skills."
The modest youngster feels his passion for the game and desire to play a high-level of football has been key to his evolution as a player.
"I never thought I was the most talented player but I made a lot of sacrifices at a young age and I am obsessed with the game and always keen to learn more," he said.
Melbourne Heart head coach John Aloisi impressed Poscoliero in the first week of the trial, which involved a 45-minute practice match.
Initially set for a one-week trial, the club has asked him to stay two more.
"I've been up against a group of players who have been training for six weeks and feel I have held my own," he said.
"I feel like I performed well in the practice game and hopefully the coaches felt the same way.
"John makes everyone work hard, is a great motivator and someone I would enjoy playing under."
|"John [Aloisi, Heart coach] makes everyone work hard, is a great motivator and someone I would enjoy playing under."
- Jacob Poscoliero
He believes the experienced gained abroad has been invaluable and holds him in good stead to secure a contract with Melbourne Heart.
"You could almost say I've done my apprenticeship and what I've learnt Italy has prepared me for a position on an A-League roster," he said.
"I would absolutely love the opportunity to be a Heart player and am working hard and doing all I can to impress but we'll have to wait and see."
Poscoliero is an admirer of the A-League and has been impressed by the upturn in quality: "The league continues to bring in better players and this has made it a more attractive competition," he said.
"I often keep up-to-date with what's happening in the league and there's been a clear improvement especially in the last couple of years."
With Italian football in disrepute for alleged match-fixing scandals coupled with a financial crisis, the country's welfare is being compounded.
For the A-League's latest hopeful, the problems in Italy made the decision to return home easier.
"Unfortunately the country is in a bleak state right now. I was always hopeful of a return back to Australia but with all the issues in Italy the best option is to leave now," Poscoliero said.
The highly-motivated individual and virtual unknown could be a diamond in the rough if Heart acquire his services.
"I would be thrilled to be living in Melbourne and with Heart, but if they don't believe I am the player they are looking for, then I am more than happy to try other clubs in the A-League," he said.