Brattan impressing after a year in the wilderness
FOR a large part of his career with the Brisbane Roar, Luke Brattan was what you would describe as a dependable team player.
He was never someone who stood out from the crowd but always could be relied on to do his bit.
That was why it was something of a surprise to see him sign a four-year deal with English Premier League giant Manchester City in October last year.
It was no surprise to see him then immediately loaned out to Championship outfit Bolton Wanderers.
Brattan sadly was recalled by City before even making an appearance for Bolton and did it tough, playing the majority of his time in the north of England for City's under-21 side as an over-age player.
But it seems that experience (although he didn't have much game time) has made him a better player, judging on his performances for Melbourne City this season, where he is on loan for this A-League campaign.
It is great to see that Brattan has come through a period that could have easily knocked his confidence.
Brattan spoke this week about what the last year had done for him after earning a spot in Ange Postecoglou's extended squad for the World Cup qualifier against Thailand next month.
Of course, Postecoglou knows Brattan well, having been his coach for a long period of his career with the Roar, but it is to the player's credit that the Socceroos coach has taken notice this season.
Arguably, Brattan has outshone his more familiar teammates such as Tim Cahill and Bruno Fornaroli and topped off his great start at Melbourne City with his (albeit controversial) goal in the FFA Cup semi-final win over Melbourne Victory in midweek.
Brattan acknowledged this week he was a changed person.
"I think I have matured - living away from my family, doing it tough, living away over there,” he said after being named in the Socceroos squad.
"It was frustrating not playing but I have learned a lot about myself on and off the field. To be back here now, playing regularly and in a good squad, I think it's a great feeling.
"Being over there for 12 months not playing at all was hard. I definitely learned a lot.
"But the places I went, I wouldn't have seen that here. I would not change that, I am grateful for that.
"Now I am just concentrating on my football here.”
Brattan is a fine example of a player who worked hard and now seems to be getting his just rewards.
He is also proof that if A-League players perform to the best of their ability then Postecoglou will recognise their efforts with a place in the Socceroos squad.
Let's hope Brattan is still in the squad for the Thailand game when the coach trims his squad to 23 next week.
He certainly deserves it.