Sky's the limit for Kantarovski
NAB Young Footballer of the year nominee for December Newcastle midfielder Ben Kantarovski discusses his nomination.
At just 17 years of age Ben Kantarovski is one of the true rising stars of Australian football.
Since becoming the youngest player in Hyundai A-League history to be signed to a full-time contract when he was just 15 and the talented teenager has shown his potential on the football pitch after making his debut for the Jets in Round 1 of the 2008/09 season.
He has made 12 appearances in the Australian Under-17 team and this year he continued his rapid rise when he represented Australia at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt and was called into the national squad ahead of the Socceroos AFC Asian Cup qualifying game against Kuwait.
In recognition of his amazing achievements Kantarovski is a deserving recipient of December's NAB Young Footballer of the Year nomination.
"It's a great honour, being acknowledged by the panel as one of six nominees for the award is a really good achievement so far," Kantarovski said at his acceptance of the nomination on Wednesday.
"Finishing the HSC and playing regularly in the A-League for Newcastle has been a really big step, it's been a lot of hard work and you have to be disciplined. But sometimes you have step back and say 'wow!'"
"Training with Newcastle and then playing and things have really shot off from there, playing for the junior Australian teams and I gained a lot of experience there and then coming back and playing in the A-League and it has really been a big stepping stone in my career."
In his short career there have already been many high points for Kantarovski and the teenager is confident there will be many more in the future as well with an eye on plying his trade overseas in the near future.
He's already had a trial with German giants Bayern Munich and it seems only a matter of time before he will be snapped up by a European club.
"Playing in the Under 20 World Cup was a major highlight for me, the experience we all gained, and the knowledge and the other players we were playing against was just incredible," he said.
"It was a real learning curve for Australian football. We were drawn in a tough group with Costa Rica and Brazil both going on to make the semi-finals. They played some excellent football at times and you could say we were a little unlucky."
"But we learnt what real football was when we went away and hopefully everyone will be better for it."
"Hopefully, one day, I'd love to play at an actual FIFA World Cup and make the Socceroos squad in the future and maybe move overseas sometime in the future."
For the meantime, Kantarovski is happy to be playing in his hometown of Newcastle and helping the Jets to push for this season's Hyundai A-League finals under coach Branko Culina.
"Ben is one of those players that is hopefully going to be a shining light for Australian football for many years to come," Culina said.
"He's a different type of player to the players that I've worked with at a similar age; Mark Viduka, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton just to name a few. Ben has different qualities to them, but for his age he is a very mature player, which is very positive."
Kantarovski joins fellow NAB Young Footballer of the Year nominees Kofi Danning, Leigh Broxham, Tommy Oar, Rostyn Griffiths and a selected player for the month of January to vie for the title, with the overall winner to be announced at the conclusion of the season.
As part of the December nomination, NAB will present a $3,000 equipment pack to Kantarovski's junior club Broadmeadow Magic FC in recognition of the vital role that junior football club's play in the development of today's young stars.