Stefanutto can almost taste Roar triumph

Shane Stefanutto has just about seen and done it all in over a decade of professional football, but only now with his return to Brisbane has he found the success he had craved for so long.

Shane Stefanutto has just about seen and done it all in over a decade of professional football, but only now with his return to Brisbane has he found the success he had craved for so long.

Having begun his career with the Brisbane Strikers before building his name in Europe with Norwegian side Lillestrom SK, Stefanutto's career has come full circle with his return to the River City to play for the Roar.

There have been appearances for the Socceroos, a one-year stint with Lyn Oslo, and a homecoming season with the North Queensland Fury along the way, but for all his worldly experience, Stefanutto has no hesitation putting 2010-11 on a pedestal.

While some Australians aim to end their careers with a Hyundai A-League swansong, Stefanutto's return from Europe came at the peak of his powers and with a genuine desire to continue to build his footballing legacy.

Amid uncertainty in North Queensland, Stefanutto signed a three-year deal with the Roar in April 2010, citing an immediate connection with master coach Ange Postecoglou that stemmed from a shared desire for success and a belief he could be part of the club's rebuilding.

"I know the boss wanted hungry players that wanted to be successful, and I did. I said to him straight up front that I've had a long career, but I haven't really won anything," he said.

The Roar finished second last in 2009-10, and even though the veteran left-back could see potential in Postecoglou's new-look side, he admits the scope of their success this season has been hard to absorb.

"I've never won a minor premiership; I've never been in a team that's gone on a run of unbeaten games like this."

"This is a year that I'll think back on when I'm retired and hopefully one day I'll be telling grandchildren about that year when the Brisbane Roar dominated the competition and hopefully did the double - that would be a dream come true," he said.

Heading into their final game of the Hyundai A-League regular season, the Roar have wrapped up the Premier's Plate, they've lost just once - 3-0 to Melbourne Victory in Round 5 - and their run of 24 games undefeated is the longest of any Australian team in any of the four football codes.

Brisbane have made their run to the premiership look easy; they've not lost at home, they've rarely trailed, and they lead the league in almost every significant statistical category. But that's merely part of the greatness of a side who are equal parts style and substance.

Previously, the Roar were a side with a league-wide reputation for being soft-bellied. They didn't win at home and they struggled to play disciplined football. This season, they have been a team of steel.

When Everton came to town in the pre-season the orange-clad underdogs took it to their big-name opposition, epitomising Postecoglou's promise to take the attack to any side, anywhere, before ultimately losing 2-1.

When they travelled across the Tasman to face a Wellington side that hadn't lost at home in two years, they played some of their best football, storming the fortress for a resounding 4-1 win.

When they faced Adelaide United in a top of the table clash in November, they went a man down with almost an entire half to play, and rather than roll over they dug deep, poured in three more goals and stamped themselves as the team to beat.

Along the way, they've lost a striker, they've lost a central defender and they've lost home games to a flood-damaged stadium. But they haven't for a moment lost their commitment to each other and drive for victory.

Stefanutto, a hard-nosed veteran defender, has been as much a part of the culture change and new-found success as any among the playing group, but true to the team-first Roar mentality, he apportions all success to the club as a collective entity.

"Whatever anyone's thrown at us, we've always been able to come back and either equalise or win it at the death, and that's been fantastic," he said.

"We've never lain down; we've always been strong and believed that we could score another goal."

"We're well trained, we're well drilled and everyone understands their job. We've really got no superstars… we're a team of hard workers that are working for each other and we've played for each other all year -that's been the key."