Connor Pain has signed his first senior contract at Melbourne Victory, with the 19-year-old rewarded for his bright start at the club
|By DEJAN KALINIC
If his bloodline is anything to go by, Melbourne Victory attacker Connor Pain has a bright future after signing his first professional contract.
The 19-year-old winger, born in Hong Kong, extended his stay with Victory until the end of the 2014-15 season after his rapid rise to the senior team.
But it should be no surprise given the former Bentleigh Greens attacker's pedigree.
Pain's grandfather Tommy Casey helped Newcastle United win the 1955 FA Cup, still the English Premier League club's most recent domestic trophy.
"Obviously he's been a big impact on me. Our family's a big football family and I've grown up watching it, grown up loving it," Pain said after training at Gosch's Paddock on Thursday.
"It's in our blood, I suppose."
His father, now a teacher like his mother, was a rugby union player who competed at Hong Kong Sevens level and Pain, unsurprisingly, was a talented all-round athlete.
Pain, who was a huge Victory fan, moved to Australia at the age of eight, coming through the juniors at Beaumaris and North Caulfield.
After a stint at Malvern City, Pain signed for Bentleigh, where former South Melbourne striker John Anastasiadis taught him his trade.
He said he always believed he could earn a spot at professional level.
"You've always got to believe don't you? There were times when I thought I'm just trying to step up to divvy two level," Pain said.
"That in itself was a struggle as a 15-, 16-year-old. I didn't really have any expectations but now that I'm here I'm over the moon."
He credits Victory National Youth League coach Darren Davies for much of his improvement, and the impact Ange Postecoglou has had on his young career cannot be understated.
"I can't describe how much [Postecoglou has helped me]," Pain said.
"And the frequency of training and training with all the guys - it's just the professionalism. It's just taught me a new meaning of the game and I've learned a hell of a lot."
The example is set for Pain on a weekly basis, with Victory winger Marcos Rojas terrorising A-League defences out wide all season.
Rojas has scored 14 goals this season and Pain said he was one of several players at the club he was learning from.
"He's obviously quality, scored however many goals this year and he gets in the right areas and I'm trying to model my game on his a little bit and get in the spots," he said.
"I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm just trying to learn off him and Archie [Thompson] and the guys."