The best goal in A-League history kept Nathaniel Atkinson from becoming the first Tasmanian to play in the competition's grand final.
Up 1-0 in the second half of the 2018 semi-final, Atkinson's Melbourne City were pegged back by a ridiculous Riley McGree scorpion kick before Newcastle completed a 2-1 comeback.
Two years on, Atkinson and City have qualified for their maiden A-League decider following a 2-0 win over Western United and will meet the league's most successful club Sydney at 6.30pm on Sunday night.
"[McGree's goal] wasn't the greatest moment to get out of the finals, but second time coming around we were pretty hungry to fix that and get into the club's first grand final," Atkinson said.
"We didn't play our best football and I think in the past years if we'd played that type of football we probably would have lost, but I think it shows how far we've come with the mental side of it that we still came out with the victory."
A former Riverside Olympic junior, Atkinson first caught Melbourne City's eye by scoring a hat-trick against the club's under-20 side in 2015 and was rewarded with a trial not long after.
The former Riverside High School student will be fielding nearly as many phone calls should he add the A-League championship to his growing resume on Sunday.
"All my friends have sent me messages saying congrats, my family's been really supportive and I think this one's more for the family for all the sacrifices they've made in the past to get to where I am today, even from when I was 10 years old or whatever it was," Atkinson said.
"To go one step further and to win it would be a good present to everyone in Tassie.
'"There's not many Tasmanian players in the league at the moment and it's been a long journey, but to finally get there just shows all the hard work has paid off.
"It's a great feeling, everyone's super proud and hopefully we can get the win and keep the proud moments coming.
"Being 21 I'm still early in my career, but to get it kick-started early and to win something, that'd be amazing.
"It just creates memories between yourself, your family and your teammates and it's something that you can hold deep to your heart for the rest of your life."
FACE TO FACE WITH PREMIER LEAGUE TALENT
A former Premier League striker and the only player to win A-League premierships with three different clubs await Nathaniel Atkinson on Sunday night.
Still only 21, Atkinson will be tasked with quietening ex-Reading super-sub Adam le Fondre and New Zealand international Kosta Barbarouses as Melbourne City chase their first A-League championship.
The star forward duo both scored in a 2-1 win over City at New Year - a match Atkinson described as the defining moment in the Sky Blues' eventual premiership - despite Sydney playing all but 25 minutes of the match with 10 men.
Atkinson has since registered his first win over the Sky Blues with a 2-0 result earlier this month and is confident of repeating the dose in Sunday's grand final in Parramatta.
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"Le Fondre's obviously a quality player - he came second in the golden boot behind Jamie Maclaren, but obviously having Jamie in our team, that gives us someone of le Fondre's capabilities in training to practise against," Atkinson said.
"Obviously they're two different types of players but I think when we played them last in that 2-1 defeat I felt I dealt with them pretty well until the last five minutes when they scored that goal with Barbarouses.
"I think le Fondre and Barbarouses are playing terrific together and that's always going to be a danger for us, but being such a young player I felt I dealt with it pretty well and we've got some great defenders in our team as well.
"It's going to be a tough game with these type of players, but this is what you want to do as a young kid, you want to play against the best."
NEW DEAL STILL COMING
Sunday's grand final marks the end of a two-year contract Atkinson signed at the start of 2018.
The former Riverside Olympic junior, who boasts a FIFA 20 rating of 64 with 89 jumping and balance, is yet to sign a new deal but remains hopeful of staying at AAMI Park for at least the immediate future.
"The league's in a bit of limbo at the moment isn't it, so it's unknown times but I've been at Melbourne City for five years and I've loved every moment of it," he said.
"So whatever happens at the end of this, it's just one of those things to think about after the grand final but I'd love to stay at Melbourne City.
"I think the A-League's a good league to really get your bearings and get ready for that next step into Europe whenever that's going to be, or even Asia.
"But for me I'm in no rush to leave - I'm happy in the A-League, I'm happy at Melbourne City - it's just one of those things that if something comes up in the future you've just got to make sure you're ready for it."
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In the meantime, Atkinson is fully focused on the biggest game of his career to date.
Having cleared the semi-final barrier, he believes the worst of the nerves are gone.
"I reckon I would have been more nervous for the semi-final than the final - with this club it's such an ambitious club and it's our first A-League grand final and we had one more game to get into that," he said.
"Now that we know that we're in, I think we can play with a bit more freedom.
"It's a do-or-die situation but we've got here and I think it's time we enjoy ourselves and if we play our style of football and enjoy ourselves with great ambition I think anything's possible."