Brandon O'Neill has put his Olyroos call-up partly down to hard work, but also the opportunity and freedom awarded to him at new A-League club Sydney FC.
The 21-year-old was a late selection in coach Aurelio Vidmar's 23-man squad for next month's Rio Olympic qualifiers, after Daniel De Silva was blocked from attending by his Dutch outfit Roda JC.
Though O'Neill only learnt of his inclusion days ago, it should not perhaps have come as a complete surprise, given his immense form for Sydney this season.
Since moving east from Perth Glory in near anonymity and with less than 15 A-League appearances over three years, O'Neill has burst onto the scene.
The youngster has featured in 11 of the first 12 A-League rounds, including seven starts, prompting Vidmar to describe his form as "tremendous".
On Saturday he ran the midfield against Central Coast and hit the woodwork twice as the fourth-placed Sky Blues disposed of a 10-man Mariners 4-1.
O'Neill was quick to point out that he's certainly not bigger than his side, but was still thrilled to be joining club teammates Andrew Hoole and Alex Gersbach for the AFC U-23 championships in Qatar, where the top three teams qualify for next year's Games.
"It's a good time for me at the moment ... selection was a nice little Christmas present," O'Neill said.
"Every training session I just try and be the best I can be, and it's credit to Arnie (Graham Arnold) and the coaching staff that they've been able to give me the opportunity to come in and try to do what they want and expect.
"I'm devastated that I have to leave the Sydney FC lads (in January), they're like my family now pretty much because we're that close.
"But I know when me and Hooley and Gersbach get away they'll continue to do the work."
The Olyroos begin their campaign against the United Arab Emirates on January 14, before facing Vietnam (January 17) and Jordan (January 20).
The squad will head to Dubai for a seven-day camp before travelling to the Qatari capital Doha.