NAB Young Footballer: new talent on the rise


With the Hyundai A-League up and running for Season 2016/17, the competition’s best young players will again come under the spotlight for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.

Previous winners include Caltex Socceroos keeper Mat Ryan, attackers Tommy Oar and Adam Taggart, James Jeggo and last year’s recipient Jamie Maclaren of Brisbane Roar. 

Of course this is also an award for the best young talent in the Westfield W-League with Larissa Crummer winning it last season. 

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Who will be recognised as the best young talent in the U-23 age group this time in the Hyundai A-League?

We look at four of the players who’ve really shone in the opening two rounds. 

Bruce Kamau (Melbourne City)

Hard to believe the winger is only 21 considering the type of form he’s already producing on a weekly basis in the Hyundai A-League.

He played a significant role in Adelaide United’s title success last season – scoring in the 3-1 grand final win over the Wanderers – and has gone to a new level now at Melbourne City.

The Kenyan-born winger has pace which frightens defenders and his dribbling and close control is superb for someone so young.

He’s enjoyed an eye-catching start to the season with City with two assists, including a cracking run and pass for Luke Brattan’s goal in the 4-1 derby win over Victory.

Jonathan Aspropotamitis (Western Sydney Wanderers)

The likely departure of skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley means ‘Aspro’ could see a lot of game time this season.

And there’s no doubt he’ll handle it.

Defender: Jonathan Aspropotamitis - Western Sydney Wanderers

The 20-year-old central defender has shown real maturity when given a chance by coach Tony Popovic, he’s ultra-composed and reliable.

Strong in the tackle and with an excellent positional sense, Aspropotamitis is emerging as one of the best young centre-backs in the competition, and like Kamau was named this week in the Hyundai A-League Team of the Week for Round 2. 

Hyundai A-League Team of the Week: RD 2

Steven Ugarkovic (Newcastle Jets)

The 22-year-old has enjoyed a breakout start to the season under Mark Jones at the Jets.

A real box-to-box midfielder, Ugarkovic enjoys getting on the ball and always looks to play forward, which is why he’s becoming a fan favourite in the Hunter.

Steven Ugarkovic (Jets) - No coincidence the Jets’ resurgence has coincided with Ugarkovic’s addition during the transfer window. Capped a strong display with a goal.

His distribution is the real strength of his game, passing at an accuracy rate of well over 80% in 13 appearances in the Hyundai A-League.

And he has an eye for goal as well, highlighted by his cracking left-footed strike in Newcastle’s 4-0 demolition of Brisbane Roar on Sunday.

Sebastian Pasquali (Melbourne Victory)

When your first senior appearance for Victory sees you steal the show against Italian giants Juventus aged just 16, you know this kid is a serious player.

Pasquali is a midfielder who doesn’t lack confidence and enjoys showing his skills and getting forward. He’s creative and clever. 

Sebastian Pasquali

Is sure to keep improving at a fast rate as he learns his trade from the likes of Carl Valeri, Oliver Bozanic and James Troisi at Victory.

Don’t be surprised if you see a lot more of this youngster in 2016/17.