Fresh from a Championship and Premiership double with Melbourne City, Olyroos winger Marco Tilio is ready to help Australia achieve “great things” at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Tilio’s talent shone through throughout his A-League season with City, particularly in the second half when he became a regular starter.
As the Olyroos continue their preparations for the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Men’s Football Tournament, there is no doubt that Tilio is hungry to replicate his impressive A-League form on the world stage.
As kick-off against Argentina on July 22 draws closer for the Olyroos, read more about Tilio’s journey from swapping Sky Blue for City Blue, to becoming an Olympian as socceroos.com.au provides you with a chance to get to know every member of Arnold's squad that little bit better.
Place of Birth: Hurstville, NSW
Position: Attacking Midfielder / Winger
Club: Melbourne City
International experience: Young Socceroos
Did you know?
Tilio is no stranger scoring goals in Green and Gold - he bagged two hat-tricks for the Young Socceroos during the 2019 AFF U-18 Championship in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
ULTIMATE GUIDE: Everything you need to know about the Olyroos at Tokyo 2020
Tilio’s “jaw dropped” when he received the call-up
Tilio was a late entry to the Olyroos' squad for Tokyo 2020 - but now he is a fully-fledged Olympian, who can be called upon on matchday by head coach Graham Arnold.
The change comes after amendments to the International Olympic Committees’ athlete replacement rules were made and the Olyroos were allowed to add four extra players to their squad.
Australia’s men’s football squad now includes 22 players, 18 athletes will be able to be selected on Australia’s matchday team sheet.
While Tilio had his best-ever season as a professional, he was not expecting to be called up to Australia’s first Olympic football tournament since Beijing 2008.
“I had gone back home to Sydney to see the family and I received a call from an unknown number, luckily I called it back and it was Graham Arnold. My jaw dropped,” Tilio explained.
“My mum was sitting across the room from me and she asked me who was on the phone. When I told her and my family, everyone was super ecstatic for me.
“I think after a rough start to the year and then a strong end of the season at City, getting the call-up to the Olympics is just a little bit of a reward. I hope I can get out there and help the team.”
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Swapping one sky blue for another
Tilio started his junior career with Sydney Olympic before joining Sydney FC’s academy as a 14-year-old in 2015.
After scoring five goals in 16 appearances for the Sky Blues’ NPL side and winning the club’s rising star award in 2018, Tilio was selected by the Young Socceroos where he scored a hat-trick on debut at the AFF U-18 Championships.
Tilio was then handed his professional debut as a 17-year-old where he played the final 15 minutes of Sydney’s 2019 AFC Champions League loss to Kawasaki Frontale.
Nine months later, he made his first A-League appearance as an 88th-minute substitute against Central Coast Mariners where he scored Sydney's second goal in the 89th minute before assisting Harry Van Der Saag's 91st-minute strike as they ran out 3–0 winners.
Having played a total of 12 minutes of senior football acquired over three appearances off the bench, Tilio joined Melbourne City in search of regular game time at the beginning of last season.
While Tilio had to bide his time off the bench before breaking through at City, when his opportunity came, he certainly made the most of it.
The 19-year-old finished his first season with his new club with 22 appearances, 10 starts, two goals and five assists as he helped City to their first A-League Championship and Premiership.
Breaking into a side as strong as Melbourne City’s was never going to be easy but Tilio always had faith in his ability.
“I believe as long as you’re confident then you are able to perform your best and towards the end of the season, I was given an opportunity,” Tilio explained.
“I just wanted to reward the coaching staff and help the team to success, and we were able to do that. Building on that, I just want to keep moving forward in my career.”
Family environment will breed success
Olyroos and Socceroos Head Coach Graham Arnold has worked hard to build a strong culture around mateship within Australia’s international football setup.
And it is the notion of mateship that Tilio believes will help Australia navigate a group including Egypt, Spain and Argentina.
“Coming here and seeing some familiar faces but not actually knowing everyone, it still feels like a family,” he said.
“Everyone is so close and so tight. It feels like I’ve been here for much longer than I have.
I think we can go on to do great things at this tournament. I’m just very happy and excited to get out there.”
After Tilio’s A-League Grand Final heroics with Melbourne City, he took some time off to spend with his family back in Sydney.
While he admitted that the journey to Japan was long, he now believes that he is starting to find his feet within the squad.
“I took the first few days to ease into it because I was going to have a break before the start of the preseason but I think I have found my feet,” Tilio explained.
“I just want to push to make a difference and help the team.”