Brown feeling good

Gold Coast United young gun James Brown has been rewarded for his outstanding start to the season with the October nomination for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.

Gold Coast United young gun James Brown has been rewarded for his outstanding start to the season with the October nomination for the NAB Young Footballer of the Year Award.

The 21-year-old Kingscliff junior has been in scintillating form over the opening four rounds of the new season, knocking in three goals and establishing himself as a focal point in United's new-look attack.

But the key to Brown's meteoric rise to Hyundai A-League fame, according to the man himself, is his commitment to his body and maintaining fitness after two seasons blighted by injury.

He had the worst possible start to his tenure with United in June 2009 when he broke his leg during training forcing him to spend weeks on the sidelines, while his teammates basked in the glory that came with the club's first season.

But those days of frustration seem well behind him now.

"It's been nice to have been playing the way I have been and to have gotten a few goals as well," Brown said.

"But it's also the longest time that I've been injury-free. I just wanted to stay fit and to be playing plenty of games this year."

"It was frustrating, the first two years to have been breaking down with injury all the time. I've been trying to look after myself as well as I can and it's starting to pay off."

Coach Miron Bleiberg said this official recognition of Brown's form meant the club's decision to give their up-and-coming stars a more prominent senior role was starting to bear fruit.

"We declared at the beginning of the season that we were going to give a chance to our youngsters, and here we are," he said.

"It's fully deserved. He scored three goals and all three were crucial. At the tender age of 21, he has become a key player."

"It took us three years to learn how to treat his injuries. Now he's learned from (former teammates) Jason Culina and Shane Smeltz and he's ready."

But as always, the price of fame inevitably means increased interest from rival clubs and overseas suitors - and given Brown's explosive start to the season, Bleiberg knows he has a fight on his hands to keep him in his home town.

But the United boss remains hopeful that his quick rise through the ranks will encourage Brown to stick around on the Gold Coast for a little while yet.

"When you've been in an environment for three years as a fringe player and you become a star, you want to stay where you are and show who you are instead of being the gypsy and going around," Bleiberg said.

"We'd like to keep him but if another club comes with a pot of gold, or if Alex Ferguson will ring from Manchester United, we can't do much about it."