He's known for his infamous mullet and being the longest-serving Sydney FC player, but Rhyan Grant's rise to the top marks a new era for Graham Arnold's Socceroos.
The defender's journey from Canowindra to the international stage is set to come full circle when Australia host Nepal in a World Cup qualifier at Canberra Stadium on Thursday.
Grant spent six months in the capital when he earned a scholarship to join the Australian Institute of Sport's soccer program as a fresh-faced 17-year-old.
The teenager impressed A-League scouts and signed a contract with Sydney FC just three months after his arrival.
Grant's short stint in Canberra proved to become a vital launching pad to his professional career and the now 28-year-old holds fond memories of his time in the capital.
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"Itwasn't the most exciting place at the time but looking back there were definitely some good times," Grant said.
"I've spent a lot time here because my sister lives just around the corner in Queanbeyan, so I make the trip from Sydney every off-season. Canberra holds fond memories so it's great to be here and playing in front of friends and family.
"My sister's two boys and her husband will come [to the match]. They're excited but my family is also coming from Bathurst and whatnot."
The Socceroos won their qualifying opener against Kuwait 3-0 before setting their sights on their first trip to Canberra in four years.
The Nepal clash will be the first time the defender has played an international match in Australia after making his debut against Lebanon at Sydney Olympic Park last year.
Grant became the 600th man to earn a Socceroos cap almost 10 years after making his A-League debut, and has since worn retired star Tim Cahill's No.4 jersey.
"When I got the No.4 jersey it was a bit daunting," Grant admitted.
"Timmy had worn it for so many years and did so well in it.
"I wasn't too pleased about wearing it but being a defender I suppose it's a bit less pressure for me rather than giving it to an attacker who has to live up to his hype, so I'm happy to take it and it's a good number."
Arnold has picked a 23-man squad to play World Cup qualifiers against Nepal and Taiwan, also recalling captain Mark Milligan after recovering from a minor leg injury.
Grant is set to join the defensive midfielder in Arnold's starting XI for the Nepal clash as the Socceroos look to finish on top of their qualifying group.
"It's great to have Milligan back after he missed the last game, but just his experience and how good of a player he is will be crucial for us," Grant said.
"We're stoked to have him back in the squad and I'm sure he'll put on a good performance.
Nepal have lost their opening qualifier against Kuwait, who defeated the World No.161 ranked side 7-0 last month.
Australia need to finish as one of the eight group winners or four best runners-up to advance directly to the 2023 Asian Cup finals and the next qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup.
Grant hopes to make his World Cup debut at Qatar should the Socceroos qualify for the tournament, but for the moment, is "just happy to be part of it now."
"I'd love to be part of an Australian team going to a World Cup and playing there, but obviously we have to get through these qualifiers first," Grant said.
"It's a massive honour to represent Australia it's something I've always wanted to do. For a while I thought it was just a dream and I'd never get there but just being able to play one game is huge for me.
"To be part of a few games now on the trot is something I'm very proud of."
Grant and goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne will miss Sydney FC's opening-round clash with Adelaide United after being selected in Arnold's 23-man squad for the qualifiers.
Striker Jamie Maclaren will also be unavailable for Melbourne City when they open their season against cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory on Saturday.
SOCCEROOS WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
Australia v Nepal: Thursday, October 10 at Canberra Stadium