Teenage Melbourne Victory midfielder Jordan Brown has one of the better individual stories being played out in the much maligned AFC Champions League.
By
SBS EXCLUSIVE: Scott McIntyre

4 Apr 2014 - 9:45 AM  UPDATED 4 Apr 2014 - 10:59 AM

Melbourne teenager Jordan Brown has one of the better ones.

With the standard of officiating plunging to such a depth that Sanfrecce Hiroshima has reportedly made a complaint to the AFC alleging match fixing and with 'squad rotation' reaching unseen levels, many have bemoaned the lack of spark around this year's tournament, certainly in the East.

While Cerezo Osaka's Diego Forlan was a no-show for his side's trip to Thailand and neither Mark Milligan nor Tom Rogic headed north to Japan for Melbourne Victory, there was a slightly star-struck schoolboy on the flight who was thankful just to have the opportunity to watch and learn.

Brown, 17, is in his final year at Caulfield Grammar and admitted his school isn't too happy with him at the moment.

"I've really missed a lot of school this term but when this finishes and calms down for a bit I can get a bit more time for school and catch up with the work I've missed and go from there," he said.

"The circumstances are quite extreme but the school's being quite good about it so I've just got to put my head down, finish this year and see what happens."

Brown is already seeing a lot more than he may have expected at this early stage of his career, having featured in three A-League matches and now getting a tick over a quarter of an hour playing time in the ACL against Yokohama F. Marinos at the venue that hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final.

"It was overwhelming really, just the whole experience of just being on the bench and coming to Japan let alone getting some minutes on the field," he said.

"As a young kid all I can ever remember was wanting to be a footballer and it's really amazing to be able to get on and play at a big stadium where the World Cup was.

"With the squad we brought out there was always a possibility having three young central midfielders that I might get some time but I didn't really know until the 70th minute that I was coming on.

"Musky came over and said do you feel confident coming on. I said I did and he said you're going to come on and play six next to Rashid... it was amazing."

What was even more remarkable was that Brown had the job of stopping Yokohama’s mercurial number 10, Shunsuke Nakamura, a player who had a formative influence on the young midfielder.

"It's just amazing because I actually had a Nakamura jersey when I was about 10, so I always looked up to this guy who's just an unbelievable player," Brown said.

"To be able to be on the same field as him let alone defend against him I'm still pinching myself."

It is astonishing to think that barely a year after Brown was born Nakamura would make his debut for Yokohama and also crack the Japanese youth national team. So how did the youngster feel he went against one of Japan's all-time greats?

"Obviously you just want to try and work your way into the game," he said.

"I was a bit nervous at the start and just tried to play one or two touch but as you get your rhythm and feel your way into it you gain confidence after each touch and by the end I was feeling really good and buzzing about it."

From a footballing family where both his sisters also play (the older Ashley has already earned several caps with the Matildas), Brown comes across as remarkably grounded and level headed.

When asked where he'd like to be in 10 years the player, who supports Barcelona and Arsenal, was candid.

"Wherever it takes me really, as long as I'm playing football, I'm happy," he said.

Along with the rest of the world he's certainly not heading to Barcelona any time soon but many judges at Victory predict a bright future for the defensive midfielder, who admitted he uses every opportunity to learn from the senior players.

"I just try and soak up as much as I can from those guys," he said.

"Millsy especially because he's in my position, just his composure and how he doesn't let any circumstances change how he plays.

"Every week he goes out and has a good game and that's ultimately how I want to become."

That is why the experience of four days in Japan has been so valuable for Brown, as has been the case for many of the clubs that are using the games on the road in the ACL to test squad depth.

While the ACL certainly shouldn't be viewed as a developmental tournament - something the governing body needs to urgently look at - the reality of 'rest and rotation' for the long away trips has opened up a whole new world for players such as Brown.

When he heads back to school upon his return to Australia the Victory youngster, who lists maths as his favourite subject, will have received a better education than many other emerging players in the A-League.