Melbourne Victory winger Connor Pain has admitted he’s still pinching himself as he gets to play for the Melbourne Victory, the club he supported as a kid.
“Yeah I went to every game and watched the guys and it’s still surreal a little bit, I’m still pinching myself that I’m on the same pitch as them,” he told the press this morning.
Pain to most A-League fans has come from almost nowhere.
The pacey winger was born in Hong Kong to British parents, Karen and Craig, both who are Physical Education teachers, before moving to Australia as an eight-year-old in 2002.
Pain went onto reveal that his grandfather, Tommy Casey, influenced his career.
“My granddad is an ex-pro in England and played in the 55 FA Cup Final (for Newcastle United) and the 58 World Cup (for Northern Ireland), so obviously he’s been a big impact on me,” he said.
Pain’s pedigree just doesn’t stop there as he’s father Craig is an ex-Hong-Kong Rugby Seven’s player and coach. In fact the former Bentleigh and Malvern winger dipped into some other sports while growing up in Hong Kong, including Rugby.
“I did (play Rugby) for a bit in Hong Kong. I was a bit of a hockey player, soccer player, just a bit of an all-rounder, but I obviously chose the one which was best suited to me and that’s football,” he revealed this morning.
After playing State League One and Two with Malvern City, Pain got his breakthrough at Victorian Premier League (VPL) side Bentleigh Greens and Pain acknowledged coach John Anastasiadis for teaching him a lot.
“They did a lot for me. I just went down there with no expectations and had to prove myself, but they all made it so easy to go down there and fit in, and I was kind of lucky in a way that Johnny A (John Anastasiadis) put me in the first game.
“He taught me a lot about attacking structure and just being a better person as well, so I can’t thank those guys enough down there.”
After impressing in the VPL Pain was signed by NYL coach Darren Davies on a youth-team deal and Pain’s initial plans was just to learn as much as he could under the Welshman.
“Darren Davies took me on board, just tried to learn as much as possible from him, I learnt a hell of a lot and it was a big step up from the (Victorian) Premier League to the Youth League and I just tried to get fit and up to pace with it,” he said.
The former Beaumaris junior continued to explain how much he had learnt while training and playing under Ange Postecoglou.
“A hell of a lot, I can’t describe how much. The frequency of training and training with all the guys, just the professionalism and its just taught me the meaning of the game and I’ve learnt tenfold, a hell of a lot.”
Pain is one of five NYL standout that Postecoglou has promoted to his senior side and Pain believes that Davies and follow youngster Andrew Nabbout gave the other youngsters the belief that they could also make the step up.
“Yeah I saw Andrew Nabbout (make his debut). We all saw him take the first step up and it kind of did unite the boys a little bit and everyone thought we could actually do it from here, so it gave us that little bit of belief and it was always drummed into us by Daz (Darren Davies) that that’s the aim for all of us youth players, that is to make the step up,” he thought.
On signing his first professional contract, Pain was obviously over the moon.
“It’s a great achievement for me and I’ve been striving for it for a long time so I worked pretty hard and yeah (I’m) over the moon,” he said.