Socceroos and Olyroos midfielder Denis Genreau has enjoyed a dream start to life at one of the biggest clubs in the second tier of French football.
Since making the switch to Ligue 2, the former Macarthur FC and Melbourne City man admits he has come a long way in a short period of time.
After impressing off the bench in his first four Toulouse appearances, the 22-year-old has now become a regular starter with the league leaders.
Since returning from international duty last month, Genreau has started four games in an attacking midfield role as Toulouse push for promotion to Ligue 1 at this early stage of the season.
While he was not expecting to play such a prominent role at the beginning of his new European adventure, Genreau is taking it all in his stride.
“When I first arrived, the coach told me I was here for four years so we would take it slowly and get used to Ligue 2 so I wasn't really expecting to start,” Genreau explained.
“But every time he kept putting me on for the last 15, 20 minutes of every game and I was doing well.
“I think he said in a press conference that I had sort of forced my way into the team with good performances off the bench so he gave me a start, against Grenoble and I played well.
“Since then, I’ve kept my spot and the goal is to keep putting in good performances so I can keep my spot.”
Born to French parents in Paris but raised in Melbourne, Genreau learned to speak French fluently throughout his childhood.
Despite it being a whirlwind four months for the 22-year-old, who became a Socceroo in June and an Olympian in July, Genreau credits his smooth transition to regular European football to the familiarity of his birth nation.
“I think with the language and everything, it's been a pretty smooth transition,” he said.
“All the boys have been really good with me as well so in terms of fitting into the team I think it's been pretty smooth.
Being able to speak French helps so much because I definitely did struggle when I was in the Netherlands with the language, but now that I can speak French and my teammates can, it makes it really easy for me.
“It's also awesome for my family in France who had never seen me play live. They've come to games and I think that's really special for them.
“Obviously now for mum, dad and my sister back in Australia, they are pretty jealous because now they have to get up early in the mornings so the roles are reversed.”
Genreau is relishing his opportunity to become a pivotal figure of Toulouse’s midfield as he utilises the maturity gained from his first European footballing journey in the Netherlands.
In 2018 he traded the A-League for the Eredivisie, where he made 10 appearances on loan at PEC Zwolle before returning to Australia.
While his experience in the Netherlands helped him to build traits that have prepared him for future challenges, Genreau said he has already learnt a lot in his new surroundings at Toulouse.
“I’ve already learned a lot and grown a lot as a player,” Genreau said.
I’ve definitely improved, even though it's only been a month or two.
"I think it's that winning mentality that you have to win at all costs because there is promotion and relegation.
“The fans have expectations, especially because we were undefeated and they basically expect us to go undefeated all year so if you lose a game, you know that you're letting people down.
“I think that sort of pressure that you play with every week and also playing in a league where it’s very physical, is making me develop a lot.
“There's honestly no easy games, regardless of where the other team is on the table. You know every game is difficult and you know when you go away, there's a big crowd in every stadium."