It’s been a long time coming but the beginning of what many shrewd judges believe will be a distinguished Socceroos career is beckoning for Brandon Borrello.
The former Brisbane Roar rookie turned Bundesliga signing believes he’s “more than ready” to grasp the opportunity having proved his fitness after being struck down 13 months ago by an ACL injury playing in the 2.Bundesliga for Kaiserslautern.
Such was the impact the 23-year-old winger made in his debut season in Germany that - despite the injury - he was snapped by top flight Freiburg.
The injury snuffed out any hope of playing in last year’s FIFA World Cup.
But, nine games into his comeback with Freiburg’s second team, Australia coach Graham Arnold had seen enough to hand the former under-age international a maiden call-up for Friday week’s friendly against Korea Republic in Busan.
“It’s a bit of surprise in the sense that the majority of the boys are coming off full seasons and I’m coming back from injury,” said Borrello.
“Maybe I did enough the previous season with Kaiserslautern to show that if I was fit I was ready for this opportunity.
“It’s just another test for me and I really feel like I’m more than ready.
“I’ve done everything I can to get back to the right level.
“I always backed myself at Brisbane Roar and then Kaiserslautern, and that hasn’t changed.”
Borrello was a rampaging and effective presence in a variety of roles for Kaiserslautern, who went on to be relegated after his injury.
His three goals in 19 games only told part of the story, with his gut-busting runs and intelligent distribution catching wide attention across Germany.
He holds no recriminations at not being called up earlier, explaining: “Previously my mentality was that I didn’t ever want to be just handed a place.
“If I didn’t get picked it was just a matter of moving on to the next camp and maybe I would get picked for that. If not then just keep going.
“That’s what helped me have a good season at Kaiserslautern.
“I just stayed positive for the club and what came of it came of it. But this is the reward now and I’m grateful for that.”
Borrello, who sees next season as his big breakthrough chance with Freiburg, is planning on being a part of the Socceroos fabric long into the future.
“It’s a real chance for the coach to show what depth he has available,” he added.
“It will be good to get to camp and see what the environment is like.
“This isn’t the Under-20s or the Under-23s. This is the big ones and Korea will be a really testing opponent.
“For me now, it’s been all about building confidence and playing games.
“I’ve always prided myself on the amount of work I get through, that's just me.
“So to get back to that type of level is really important.
“The competition is fierce here (in Germany) and you have to make sure you’re 100 per cent fit all of the time.”
Borrello feels indebted to the club which backed him at a dark time, and plans to make up for lost time in 2019-2020.
“I feel like I owe it to them,” he added. “They believed in me and they trusted me to do the right thing to get back playing again and I want to pay them back for that.
“This season was about playing some games and getting fit but next season is a big focus for me. I have to make sure I make the most of it.
“Freiburg is a great club. The fans stick with the team, win or lose. The stadium is always sold out. There are no superstars here. It’s all-round team ethic.”
Though wing play is in his DNA, Borrello has proved his versatility since arriving at Freiburg.
“Sometimes we will play three at the back and I’ll be the right wing back,” he said.
“I can play anywhere up front. They have even tried me as a number 10 as well.
“I enjoy the versatility ... it helps you understand the game a little bit better.
“More often than not I play up front as part of a front three.
That’s been the position for most of my career so far.”