He's older, wiser and ready for another crack at the A-League. Five years after winning a reality TV show and a short-lived career with Melbourne Victory, former ANU captain Luke Pilkington is back on the big stage in the FFA Cup.
Pilkington will line up for Victorian National Premier League club Bentleigh Greens when they host Adelaide City in a quarter-final tie in Melbourne on Wednesday.
In 2009, Pilkington, then 19, was catapulted from Capital Football's Premier League when he won the second season of the Fox Sports show Football Superstar. It earned him a youth contract with the Victory, before he was upgraded to the senior squad the following year.
He was cut in 2011 after a handful of senior appearances, including in the Asian Champions League.
"If I had the time to do it again, I'd do it a little bit differently," Pilkington said.
"Having the head on my shoulders now, as a bit older and seeing what I've seen in the [Victorian] premier league, I'd love to basically go through it what I know now.
"It is a cut-throat industry, any sporting industry is going to be exactly the same.
"You get your break and you take it, or you get your break and something else comes up.
"There's times like you feel like you could've done more, or you feel like you got hard done by a little bit, but that's life and you get on with it."
Pilkington played alongside Socceroos midfielder Tom Rogic at ANU. Rogic also got his big break through a talent search as one of eight worldwide finalists in Nike's The Chance.
Now a stockbroker in Melbourne, Pilkington knows exposure in the FFA Cup could open doors.
"You could have seen getting released as a big downer and maybe not bothered with football any more," he said.
"I've just taken the next step in the career, I guess you could call it, and gone to the level that's the next in line.
"We'll see if anything comes up to get back to that level."
The winner of Bentleigh's game against Adelaide City is guaranteed a spot in the final four against an A-League opponent.
The Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United have already qualified for the semi-finals. Perth Glory hosts Melbourne Victory in Wednesday's other quarter-final.