Pellegrino the powerful prankster

He may be one of the Perth Glory's class clowns but last week's spectacular strike against Melbourne showed that Adriano Pellegrino has some serious firepower to match the cheeky exterior.

He may be one of the Perth Glory's class clowns but last week's spectacular strike against Melbourne showed that Adriano Pellegrino has some serious firepower to match the cheeky exterior.

A self-proclaimed prankster at the club, Pellegrino has also become known as a dangerous contributor down the right with a quality right-footed cross that's become more incisive as the season's gone on.

But no-one at Members Equity Stadium last Saturday night expected the explosive finish he produced off his non-preferred foot during the 78th minute of Perth's win over Melbourne. At that stage, the Victory had pulled a goal back after going two goals down and looked a good chance of sneaking an equaliser against a Glory side that was visibly tiring.

But against the run of play, Pellegrino took advantage of a slip-up by Melbourne defender Rody Vargas, cut inside and unleashed a powerful 20-metre finish into the top left-hand corner that finished off the Victory's challenge.

His coach, Dave Mitchell, could hardly believe it after the match, jokingly referring to it as a 'fluke' goal. But Mitchell was serious when he called Pellegrino one of the 'finds of the season' with performances that have justified a new two-year contract for the 24-year-old.

And his goal just may have given the Glory the shot in the arm they needed to reach their first Hyundai A-League finals series.

"It's (the goal) still floating around, whether it be on the internet or word of mouth," Pellegrino admitted sheepishly during the week.

"(But) I'm happy with it, it was one of those ones that you never forget, especially your first goal for the Glory."

"I'm still on a high about it and hopefully we can get over to New Zealand this week and get another three points."

It's been a big six months for Pellegrino though. He started the year playing in the South Australian state league, working part-time for Adelaide United before Mitchell, impressed by his performances for Adelaide City, invited him to trial with Perth on its pre-season trip to China.

Pellegrino said it was still a difficult start to the campaign, though, as he was used in more of a central midfield role. But when injuries gave him the chance to play on the right wing, he was more than prepared to take the chance to establish himself.

"It's all about confidence I guess, the more you get the ball out there, the more (goal) assists you get, of course you start playing better," he said.

"At the start of the season, I was in the middle, probably doing a lot more running and hard work and not so much freedom on the ball where I can express myself."

"'Mitch' put me out to get a bit more freedom out there and to be able to set up a few goals now and ... as the weeks go on, you get more match time."

"(I've) just grown in confidence ... (and) that's how the goal came about, you get more confidence, you stick your head up and have a hit."

Pellegrino also feels that playing in the state league after returning from a stint at Greece second division club Panahaiki helped him improve as a player.

"(It was) a bit of a reality check going back to the local league for a little bit," Pellegrino admitted.

"But I guess sometimes you've got to take a step backwards to go forward and that's what I did, I took a step backwards in the local league and did well and got my opportunity at Glory."

"And I was grateful we had a few injuries when I first came over so I started playing and just proved myself and kept my spot from there."

"Mitch gave me my chance and I want to do well under him and hopefully I can finish out my career here in Perth."

And as for pranking his team-mates, Pellegrino revealed that he and partner-in-crime Nick Rizzo had been targeting Brazilian playmaker Amaral of late, especially as the pair speak Italian and are the only two players who can communicate with their team-mate, who speaks Italian but only a little English.

"Me and 'Rizz' get on really well," Pellegrino said. "We've had a few pranks in the change rooms and moved people's cars at training and a few pranks on the aeroplane as well."

"We've been trying to target Amaral in the last month or so but it hasn't been working because he just laughs it off, he doesn't take anything serious."

"Amaral, I guess when he came here, he's a superstar, he's played at some of the biggest clubs in the word, he's had 30-35 caps for Brazil. He's very close friends with Rivaldo and Ronaldinho and he speaks to them all the time."

"So when he came here I think I was a bit reluctant, I was a bit scared of him because he was such a big player. But now in the last month or so he's come out of his comfort zone."

"So Rizzo and I were at his house having a barbecue and he actually spoke to Rivaldo on the phone and we were in the background screaming and being stupid and stuff."

"It's been a disappointment now that he's injured," Pellegrino said, referring to Amaral's season-ending hamstring injury. "But hopefully Glory will keep him on ... he's a really nice person and he wants to stay here."