Stefan Mauk says he has modelled his game on Arsenal star Aaron Ramsey as he adjusts to a new role with high-flying Melbourne City.
The 20-year-old is enjoying a breakout season in the Hyundai A-League, playing a key role in City’s incredible patch of form over the last month.
While the likes of Aaron Mooy, Bruno Fornaroli and Thomas Sorensen have attracted most of the headlines, Mauk has also been a model of consistency.
He has scored four times from 10 appearances in 2015/16, had two assists and thrived in a new wide-midfield role in City’s prolific attack.
Much more comfortable centrally – where Mooy is starring - Mauk has had no choice than to adapt is a position similar to the Gunners' Welsh superstar Ramsay.
“I’m not an out and out right winger, I don’t have the pace of some other wingers. It’s just reinventing that position, something like Aaron Ramsey’s been doing for Arsenal,” Mauk told the Herald Sun.
“I’m an Arsenal fan and I’ve looked and seen he's a midfielder and he’s playing that position and they play a similar type of football we strive to play.
“It’s about doing the team job on the wing, but once we’ve got the ball it is a bit of a free role.
“When we’ve got the players we’ve got up front, it’s very off the cuff.”
Prior to this season, the youngster had made just three starts for City but has already racked up seven this campaign.
He admits it’s hard as a young player not to be playing regularly but feels he has made the most of his opportunities under coach John van ‘t Schip this season.
“We’ve always had good players in my position so it’s just about taking that chance,” Mauk said.
“Maybe this year I’ve taken it more than I have previously and maybe it’s a bit of maturity, knowing that maybe I’ll only get one chance and that was the first derby of the season.
“I came on and scored and assisted and it’s kicked on from there. Now I’m seen more as a senior player than a young player.’’
Mauk scored City’s opening goal in the 2-1 derby win over Melbourne Victory on Saturday night, stooping low to head home Ben Garuccio’s cross.
Reflecting on his rare headed goal, Mauk said: “It’s my first headed goal since under-11s or 12s, probably from Ben [Garuccio] in under-12’s at Adelaide City.
“I just saw the ball and attacked it. I’m not sure I knew too much about it, but it was a good moment to score. It was a good play, and the type of football we want to play, getting numbers in the box.
“We had to consolidate and back up our recent wins by beating one of the big teams, if not the biggest.“I’m very happy to get on the scoresheet again against Melbourne Victory and I don’t think we’ve ever been second on the table. It’s good being in a winning side.”