When you count France legend Alain Giresse as a mentor you might just have a head start building a career in Europe.
Sydney-raised dual nationality midfielder Brooklyn Barataud certainly hopes so as he bids to parlay a positive debut season in Belgium with Pro League side AFC Tubize’s Under-21s into a professional deal elsewhere.
Ligue 1's Bordeaux, Premier League outfit Newcastle United, Championship promotion-hunters Aston Villa and 2.Bundesliga side Karlsruhe have all shown interest, along with clubs in Portugal and Bulgaria.
The possibilities are opening up for the 19-year-old who cut his teeth with Manchester City’s Aussie teen talent Alex Robertson at Sydney NPL outfit Hakoah, and played alongside Socceroos starlet Daniel Arzani with Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs rep teams.
He also featured for Sydney Olympic and NPL 3's Dunbar Rovers before leaving for Europe last year to chase his dreams.
And, all that, after spending a year on the sidelines recovering from ACL surgery.
Currently training with Bordeaux - with European Championship winner and three-time French footballer of the year Giresse, 66, in close attendance - Barataud was last week rubbing shoulders with the likes of Mohamed Diame during a trial at St James’ Park.
Two-time FIFA World Cup player Giresse spent 16 seasons with Bordeaux, scoring 181 goals in a club-record 593 games.
He currently coaches the Tunisia national team but is devoting time to his Aussie protege.
A long-time family friend, he’s watched from afar, offering encouragement as Barataud developed his skills in Sydney.
“He’s really taken me under his wing since I’ve been here in France and is pushing for me,” said Barataud, who holds both Australian and French passports.
“He’s been advising me since the age of 10 and now I’m here; he is helping me learn what it takes to be a professional.
“He says you have to be a great man as well as a good player to make the grade.
“He’s told me how good a club Bordeaux is and that I should aim for a spot here.
“He said it’s a perfect place to learn and progress and has a great record of nurturing young kids.
“It was he who advised me to go to Belgium to get myself back on track after my injury.
“But I’ve been at Bordeaux a couple of weeks training and the coaches are happy with me.
“I was at Newcastle for a week also but right now I’m really focusing on Bordeaux.
“Whenever I go my aim is to push into the first team now because I’m at that stage (age wise).
“I had some sessions with the first team in Belgium.”
A graduate of Westfields Sports High School, which counts Harry Kewell among its alumni, Barataud received some sage advice during his injury absence - from none other than Arsene Wenger.
“I met him at the team hotel when Arsenal came down to Sydney and he told me to stay positive, do the recovery right and not take any short cuts,” he added.
An early mentor was former Socceroo Mark Robertson - father of City’s Alex.
“I’m a few years older than Alex (16) and he’s like a little brother to me,” Barataud added.
“We grew up together and are from the same area. I even used to take him to school. We also trained together.
“The Robertsons are like a second family.”
Mark, who played for the likes of Swindon, Dundee and St Johnstone, oversaw Brooklyn’s development with Hakoah, and again in Manchester this time last year.
“He’s toughened up physically and mentally since coming to Europe,” Robertson said. “I trained him for about four weeks last pre-season and worked on his technique, mentality and physicality.
“He’s got the right attitude for the game. I’ve known him since he was nine and I know what needed to improve.
“He’s a good kid who has what it takes to make a good career. He just needs somebody to give him that opportunity.”