The postponement of the Olympic Games may have handed Tasmanian soccer star Nathaniel Atkinson an unexpected opportunity to take part.
Initially suspended for this year's Tokyo Games, the 21-year-old will again be available for selection following the 12-month delay prompted by COVID-19.
Atkinson said he was focused on resuming Melbourne City's pursuit of this season's A-League title but was aware of his chance to return to the Olyroos before the Olympics which are now scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, 2021.
"I'd say so, yeah," he said.
"It's one of those things, everything happens for a reason and if opportunity arises you've got to take it with both hands.
"It's every boy's dream ... well, it's every grown man's dream. To be on that stage would be terrific and it's always good to play for your country.
"But I'm just focusing on the A-League season, it's not in the front of my mind."
The Riverside Olympic product, who had become a mainstay in Melbourne City's defence ahead of the A-League season suspension, said he was yet to hear anything from Football Federation Australia about the Olympic tournament which primarily features under-23 players.
Atkinson was one of four Olyroos players banned for "unprofessional conduct" following a complaint in April 2019 arising from a night out in Cambodia.
The international suspension runs until August 10.
Asked about his treatment and punishment, Atkinson said: "I've got my own opinions but that's just for me. I've moved on from this and it's just one of those things. I've put it behind me.
"You've got to take good out of every bad situation."
The former Riverside High student was called up by the Australian under-20s in 2017 and has since graduated to Graham Arnold's under-23s.
He has featured in 18 games this A-League season for a Melbourne City side which sits second on the ladder behind runaway leaders Sydney FC.
Fixtures are set to resume on July 16.
Star shining way forward
Tasmanian A-League star Nathaniel Atkinson does not have to look far for guidance in helping achieve his soccer dreams.
The 21-year-old's agent is Vince Grella whose lengthy career saw him grace the top leagues in England and Italy, amass 46 Socceroo caps and become the only Australian named in FIFA's preliminary squad of the tournament at the 2006 World Cup.
Atkinson said the respected international has become a priceless mentor on his journey from Riverside Olympic to Melbourne City and potentially beyond.
"Really he's more of a role model to me, someone to talk to," Atkinson said.
"He emphasises that I've got to train hard every day and play to my strengths and it's all about improvements.
"Everything he did and learned, he's done all that and knows what it takes to get to the highest level and he's passing on that knowledge.
"I remember watching him in the game against Uruguay to get to the World Cup. He was a big player for the Socceroos, played for a few clubs in Italy and Blackburn in England, so you can take his word for it."
Atkinson's immediate goal is helping City's A-League title bid, but the rampaging full-back admits his sights span beyond Australian horizons.
"Every young boy's dream is playing overseas, whether it's somewhere in Europe or Asia and for me I really just want to fulfil my potential and go overseas, whether it's in the next year or two or whenever I feel I'm ready, but I feel ready at the moment.
"I'll give it a few more years and if I keep putting in performances in the A-League anything can happen."
City's last match was a 2-1 loss at Newcastle Jets on March 23 and the team is set to resume its campaign in mid-July sitting second behind Sydney.
"We got back just before they closed the borders. I chose to stay in Melbourne because I did not want to be in a hotel for two weeks and if I had something did not want to risk taking it back to my family.
"We only have to play three games, some other teams have six, so there will be more of a tournament feeling to the season.
"I want to be part of every game until the end of the season.
"The expectation at this club is silverware and if we win these three games we're in a good position to get into finals in the top two then move on from there to the finals series."
After such a disrupted campaign, Atkinson said the country's top domestic players are relishing the prospect of returning to some form of normality.
"It will give me something to do," he said.
"Being a footballer is all about a routine, I've had that for three years and suddenly you're stuck within the four walls of your house and you realise there's a lot bigger things happening than football.
"As a team, we have not had our most consistent season but we are still second ... we were going good but then a massive bomb came around and took our focus off football and now we've got to switch mentality to get back into it."
World Cup and Olympic dreams
Nathaniel Atkinson believes securing the 2023 Women's World Cup will be a giant boost for his home country and potentially his home state.
Launceston is one of seven potential Australian host cities for the tournament and Atkinson said he would love to see matches played at UTAS Stadium.
"It would be amazing," he said.
"Football is not the biggest sport in Tasmania but it is obviously growing and with that acceleration it will be good to get more eyes on Tasmania because not many people seem to know about the place.
"It's massive for Australian sport in general. The Matildas have done wonders and are one of the best teams in the world at the moment. The amount of work they have put in is huge for Australian sport."
Although Atkinson opted to stay in Melbourne through the height of the coronavirus, he is relishing the prospect of returning home when the A-League season is over and even getting plenty of encouragement from a former Riverside Olympic teammate.
"Hopefully I can get some time off and go and see the family because I have not seen them in a long time, but finishing the season is the main goal.
"I keep in touch with (Olympic captain) Taylor Neilson and he's always trying to recruit me. I came to a few games last year and hopefully I can come to some more and watch him put the boots on again.
"Maybe in my older days I might return."