Connor Chapman may have played only 12 minutes in his Hyundai A-League debut last Saturday against Perth but it was enough to suggest the Newcastle Jets have a star in the making.
Connor Chapman may have played only 12 minutes in his Hyundai A-League debut last Saturday against Perth Glory but it was enough to suggest the Newcastle Jets have a star in the making.
Chapman came on in the 77th minute to replace Tarek Elrich in Newcastle's 2-0 loss to the Glory and played in a defensive midfielder role.
And although the result was not in the Jets favour, Chapman's cameo performance in a role he is unaccustomed to was a bright spot on an otherwise dim day for Newcastle.
"I was only on for 10 minutes but I thought I did quite well for the time I was on there," Chapman told Sportal on Monday.
"I wasn't really scared to come on even though it is a big step to jump up to the A-League."
"My preferred position is centre-back. But obviously with Jobe Wheelhouse being out Taylor Regan had to cover for him and then when Taylor got sick halfway through the game I came on it that role."
The 17-year-old looked assured in his first outing in the A-League taking the ball forward with aplomb and showing good pace and vision as well as using his large frame to win the ball in a number of strong tackles.
"I like to be an attacking centre-back as well that is why I was comfortable in that position," Chapman said.
"When I was younger a lot of coaches put me in both attacking and defensive positions to try to improve my game."
"(Coach) Gary (van Egmond) said to me before the game that I could possibly play that position if I go on."
"I have played that position when I was a younger player so it is not an uncomfortable position, I just haven't played there for a while but my number one position is centre-back."
Chapman is surely one of the brightest prospects in the game.
He led Australia to the second round of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico in June and was singled out to attend the Nike All-Asia Camp in Seoul, where he trained before scouts from the likes of Manchester United, Inter Milan and Barcelona.
So it is somewhat of a coup that the Jets managed to secure his signature for the next two seasons.
Although Van Egmond's mentoring had plenty to do with the signing.
"The new Hunter Sports Group was a big impetus to come to the Newcastle Jets (because of) the professionalism they now have here and all the facilities," Chapman explained of his decision to join the Jets.
"Obviously the coaching staff I am very familiar with as Gary was my Australian Institute of Sport coach, Arthur Pappas, the Jets youth coach, was also down at the AIS when I was there."
"Also the style of play that Gary is trying to instil here at the Newcastle Jets is something I am familiar with as well and I would still like to play in my development to become a better footballer."
"You can see that it does work, the last few weeks the Jets have been playing attacking football and it has been working. Hopefully it does work out here at the Jets and I can be part of that attacking style of play of here next year."
Chapman certainly seems the perfect fit for Van Egmond's high-paced, possession-based game.
The Jets coach is renowned for getting the best out of young players with the likes of Taylor Regan, Ben Kantarovski and Jacob Pepper first-team regulars.
He is also trying to destroy the belief that being 21 should be considered young for a player in the A-League.
Overseas leagues like the English Premier League, La Liga and Serie A often feature teenagers in their first team ranks.
For now though, Chapman is focused on training hard and fitting in at his new club.
In a rugby league town like Newcastle he already has some street cred being the great nephew of South Sydney Rabbitohs legend Bobby McCarthy.
"One part of my family of football and the other part is rugby league. I follow the Rabbitohs, my great uncle is Bobby McCarthy and that is why that part of my family is rugby league," explains Chapman.
"My dad's side is the soccer side, my grandfather played football and my brother played football before me and that is what got me into the game."
"Since I have been here (in Newcastle) I love the Jets fans and the landscape of the place, like the beaches. It is a nice place to live and I am enjoying my time here."
"I have been working really hard the last few weeks and that is why Gary gave me the opportunity on the weekend and if things keep going my way and I keep working hard then hopefully I can be part of the team regularly."