Mitchell Duke says Olyroos boss Graham Arnold has challenged him to finish the Tokyo 2020 Men's Football Tournament as its top scorer, as he prepares to seize the 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to represent his country at the Olympic Games.
Australia's only overage selection in the Australia U-23 men's football squad comes into Tokyo 2020 off the back of a solid season on loan at A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers from Saudi Professional League side Al-Taawoun.
At the conclusion of the A-League campaign Duke set off to join the Socceroos squad in Kuwait, where Arnold presented him with the opportunity to become an Olympian.
Duke accepted the task and the challenge of clinching the golden boot at the tournament, which begins as Australia meet Argentina on July 22.
Read on as Duke talks to Simon Hill and Alex Brosque on SEN's The Global Game in the lead-up to the Olympic campaign.
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Australia Men's Football Team
Olyroo Profile: Mitchell Duke
Place of Birth: Liverpool, NSW
International experience: Socceroos
Did you know? Duke is the only overage selection in Arnold's squad bound for Tokyo.
The 30-year-old never represented his country as a Joeys or at U-23 level, but made his debut for the Socceroos against South Korea in 2013.
Arnold puts great expectations on Duke's shoulders at Tokyo 2020
Duke is ready to relish the challenge set to him by Arnold to end the Men's Football Tournament at Tokyo 2020 as the competition's top scorer.
But along with the expectation of goals, Arnold hopes Duke can bring an array of qualities to his squad, which Duke has refined and developed over his playing career.
Coming into the age-restricted competition as an overage selection, Duke hopes to show his teammates how to channel nervous energy, focus and hunger the right way with the hope of taking a difficult group containing Argentina, Spain and Egypt by surprise.
"(Arnold) had a good chat to me about it while I was in Socceroos camp," Duke told SEN.
"I think he prides himself off what I do with my energy, and work rate. That’s first and foremost, and I think that’s why he really likes me as a player.
"Just leading from the front, I’m not afraid to do those defensive duties, work hard and cover another player in that aspect as well.
"We’ve got a tough group, and I think that’s going to be a core of how we’re going to have success at this tournament. We’re going to have work ethic, energy and belief.
"I’ll also bring a bit of experience in that as well because I’ve learned to control that energy, and put it in the right areas.
"I feel like I’ve also become a bit more composed in front of goal now as well, so hopefully I can step up in those big moments in this tournament. That’s what he expects of me.
He’s already told me he wants me to be golden boot at this Olympics.
That’s a challenge he’s set for me and I’m taking it with both hands."
A new experience for an "old fella" amongst "the young pups"
Just days into his stay in the Olyroos camp, Duke has felt well aware of the age gap between himself and the 21 other rising Australian talents selected in Arnold's Australian squad.
The 30-year-old has seen a lot throughout his career to date, but featuring at an Olympic campaign is one experience he gets to share for the very first time with all the other members of the squad.
Tokyo 2020 is Australia's first appearance at the Men's Football Tournament since Beijing 2008.
"I was never part of anything with the young national team as well growing up," Duke said.
"I didn’t get any young representative (opportunities) in that sense as well, so for me to be a part and be the old fella with the young pups is quite an interesting experience.
"This is my first major tournament representing Australia," Duke added. "So I’m definitely going to make sure I take this opportunity and show what I can do.
"Just enjoy being part of the journey and experience and hopefully help my experience with the young boys in this tournament. "
An amazing occasion offers Duke the chance to make history
Why not play a part in Australia's Olympic history? That's the question Duke asks himself - and will ask of his fellow squad members - when the Olyroos take to the field at Tokyo 2020.
In the eyes of the experienced striker, the objective should be to clinch gold at the Men's Football Tournament, and hoping for anything less wouldn't pay respect to the immense opportunity put in front of himself and the Australian Men's team at the upcoming tournament.
Duke says Arnold has put a clear focus on the mental side of the battle at hand to prepare the squad for a fight, not just against the physical and tactical strength of any opponent, but the nerves, the doubt, and any fear which may spring to mind when preparing to face some of the most powerful footballing nations in the world.
"(Arnold) has made it clear, the boys that have been selected are good enough to perform here, and good enough to win a medal," Duke said.
"But it’s about the mental side of things, which I think he’s very massive about.
"He wants to get everyone on the same page to believe we can get a gold medal.
This is an amazing occasion... there’s not been a lot of players that have had this opportunity to perform at the Olympics, so take it with both hands and really give it everything you’ve got.
We have a first opportunity to win a gold medal in football, so why not make a part of history?"
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.