Rising All Whites star Liberato Cacace admits his whirlwind impact in Belgium - and sudden interest from Italy - has taken him aback.
After just 19 appearances for fast-reviving Belgium Jupiler Pro League Sint Truiden VV, the 20-year-old wingback is already being targeted by Juventus for their U-23 side, and is allowing himself to daydream of a future in his ancestral home.
Recruited by former Sint-Truidense coach Kevin Muscat - who was sacked after just 14 games at the helm back in December - Cacace has powered on, lighting up the left flank with his attacking exuberance, just as he did in the A-League with Wellington Phoenix.
“I came here knowing the coach Kevin and having (a long-standing) relationship with (then assistant) Luc Trani,” he said.
“I knew I was going to settle in well - but I didn’t think I would (necessarily) continue to play under the new coach (Peter Maes).
“That has definitively surprised me and I think I’ve done quite well so far.
“The new boss has come in and changed a lot and we’ve started picking up results (six wins and a draw from their last 11 games).
“He’s helping transform me into a better player.
“Kevin was unlucky in that things weren’t going our way and little mistakes were costing us, whereas now we’re getting the rub of the green and have found a bit of a winning formula.”
The son of Napoli-mad Wellington restauranteur, Cacace is “flattered” by the attention from Juventus, and isn’t afraid to deliberate on what the next chapter might have in store.
“The interest and the rumours are motivating me to keep doing well, and it shows that people are watching,” he said.
“I’ve got two more years here and I’m thankful for the opportunity.
“Of course it’s everybody’s dream to play at the top level and Serie A is right up there with the best leagues.
“It’s a dream of mine to play there one day. My dad (Antonio) is a huge Napoli fan and he’s the reason I’m playing football and work hard every day for the family.
“If I could play for them at some stage that would be the ultimate for me.
“My father was born and raised there and my mum also spent several years there.
“We have relatives on the Amalfi Coast and I keep in touch with them also.”
Though he exited the club along with Muscat, Cacace remains in touch with Trani - whom he first encountered whilst still a boy at his family’s La Bella Italia eaterie - describing him as “another father figure”.
“He’s been a great support to me and I’m fortunate to have him by my side with his vast knowledge of the game,” he added.
“We’re still in touch and I’m always going to ask him for advice.
“I was just a kid when he was part of the Phoenix coaching staff and would come to the restaurant with the whole squad.
“My dad told him I could play a bit and they should watch out for me.
“Of course they all laughed at the time, as anybody would.
“I’ve been training hard and Luc has helped me a lot with that and adjusting to the tempo and the physicality of the game here.
“I’ve had to adapt to the speed of games and the pressure at this level where there’s so much at stake with promotion and relegation.”
Having picked up five yellow cards, Cacace - who was rested for the 2-0 midweek cup win over Lockeren Temse - is ineligible for tonight’s trip to KV Oostende.
But he will return for the midweek cup clash against Danny Vukovic’s Genk.
“I’ve got to keep performing for the club and I’d like to add a few more assists to my name (he has two to date) and help us keep climbing that ladder (STVV are currently nine points off bottom spot),” he added.