With his first call-up to an Olyroos squad now secured, Dylan Pierias is ready to translate his impressive A-League form to the world stage.
After a stellar season with Western United, where he scored six goals in 26 appearances and won the club's Young Player of the Season award, Pierias has set his sights on Olympic glory with the Olyroos.
The versatile 21-year-old has no problem attacking and defending which could see him play a pivotal role for Graham Arnold's men in Tokyo.
As kick-off against Argentina on July 22 draws closer for the Olyroos, read more about Pierias’ journey from debuting as a 16-year-old to Olympian as socceroos.com.au provides you with a chance to get to know every member of Arnold's squad that little bit better.
Olyroo Profile: Dylan Pierias
Place of Birth: Melbourne, Australia
Position: Right winger
Club: Western United
Previous clubs: Melbourne City
Grassroots club: Spring Hills, Keilor Park, Pascoe Vale,
International experience: Joeys, Young Socceroos
Did you know?
Dylan Pierias became the first player born in the 21st century to debut in the A-League, when he was handed his debut by Melbourne City at the age of 16.
The tough A-League introduction that grew Pierias' resilience
After winning back-to-back National Youth League titles with Melbourne City, Pierias became the first player born in the 21st century to feature in the A-League when he made his debut for City as a 16-year-old in 2017.
While he made 37 appearances and scored seven goals for the club's youth team, Pierias struggled to cement his place in the A-League squad and only managed three appearances during a three-year stint at City.
In search of a fresh start and regular game time, Pierias signed with Western United for their inaugural A-League campaign.
Former Western coach Mark Rudan put his trust in Pierias and the youngster certainly delivered.
In his first season with the club, Pierias found the regular game time that he had been searching for and featured 21 times as the A-League’s newest club finished 5th and secured a maiden finals berth.
But it was his most recent A-League season that really got Australian football fans excited. The 21-year-old scored six goals in 26 appearances while playing multiple positions throughout the season.
Despite the struggle he faced to establish himself as an A-League player after his debut as a 16-year-old, Pierias said he would not change anything.
“After being given an opportunity so young, I just wanted to play more but looking back, and obviously only being sixteen, I was never going to play a lot of games,” Pierias explained.
“I would have liked to play a few more when I was younger but it is what it is. This is how my journey went and I wouldn't change it.
“If anything, it taught me to be more resilient and it woke me up to what the reality of football is like at an early age.”
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Pierias’ versatility a huge asset
Displaying the sort of versatility that can become crucial in a gruelling Olympic tournament, Pierias has no problem playing multiple positions.
Whether it be as an attacker or a defender, his pace to burn and a desire to get forward makes him a fantastic addition to Arnold’s squad.
Fresh off his best goal-scoring season in the A-League, Pierias says his versatility stems from playing multiple positions as a junior.
“When I was younger, I started off as a number 10 midfielder but coaches started to realise my pace so they chucked me out on the wing,” Pierias explained.
“Around the Under 14s, a coach asked me if I could do a job as a right-back so I started playing fullback and basically swapped between fullback and wing.
“Then I became more of a right fullback and I obviously love attacking so that helped my game.
I just wanted to play, whatever position it was, I didn't mind. Throughout my whole journey, I just learned to play different positions and, with my pace and speed, I can move around and play different positions.
“I enjoy playing wing but I do love wingback in a back five - that is probably my favourite position.”
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Title winning youth team connection to help Olyroos
Despite it being Pierias’ first Olyroos call-up, the 21-year-old has the opportunity to re-united with some familiar faces from his City youth team days.
Having already been successful with the likes of Daniel Arzani, Connor Metcalfe, Nathaniel Atkinson and Denis Genreau, Pierias will be hoping to rediscover the connection which brought so much success to City’s youth ranks.
“It's funny because when I was playing in the Melbourne City youth team, Denis (Genreau), Connor (Metcalfe), Arzani and I were all teammates,” Pierias said.
“We were all really close so it's funny to see a group of young lads like us at this stage of the Olympics.
“When I first saw them, we all just laughed at each other and remembered when we were playing NYL.
“Obviously, we won the Youth League with that team and they’re all such amazing players so I had no doubt that they were going to go far.
“I’m just wrapped to see them and to see that all the hard work that we put in when we were younger is paying off.”
Proud to wear the Green and Gold
Having worn the Green and Gold and the captain's armband for the Joeys and Young Socceroos squads, Pierias knows what it means to represent his nation.
Despite not ever playing in an Olyroos side, he always held out hope that he would make the Olympic squad.
“I had a good season, scored a few goals and started to get consistent game time so I thought maybe I was in the question but when I made the shortlist I started to give myself more hope,” Pierias said.
“I’m just wrapped to be a part of it and to be picked. Any sporting person in Australia has always had the dream to play for their country.
“I believe there is no higher honour than playing for your country and representing the whole of Australia.
“When I see that Green and Gold jersey with my name on the back I just know that it is given to me to work as hard as I can and give absolutely everything on the field.
“When you’re putting that shirt on, it’s like the whole of Australia is on that shirt and you’re representing your country.
“I couldn't be more proud to be Australian and I’m just going to give my heart and soul on the pitch for the Green and Gold badge.”
Stay tuned to socceroos.com.au and the Socceroos' social pages for more in-depth profiles of Australia's Men's Football Team at Tokyo 2020. You can check out all of our exclusive pre-Olympic content here.