When you’ve been on the receiving end of a personal pep talk from Harry Kewell and boast an older brother who’s already played at a FIFA U-17 World Cup, the incentives to succeed in your own right are immense.
That’s the challenge facing Portugal-based Sydney kid Aydan Hammond, 16, whose Sporting Lisbon-based sibling Tristan starred for the Joeys in Brazil last year under head coach Trevor Morgan.
Morgan has also been tracking Aydan, who is into his sixth year in Lisbon at less fashionable offshoot C.F. Os Belenenses, a club which dropped from the top tier to the sixth when the Primeira Liga team formerly known as Belenenses fragmented into two entities back in 2018.
Their junior teams still compete against the top division sides - and the two brothers, both wingers, regularly match up at opposing ends.
“I’m trying to follow in Tristan’s footsteps, it’s always been that way growing up (in the Western Sydney suburb of Fairfield) but it’s not easy,” said Aydan, who has a Peruvian mother and an Italian passport to go with his Australian citizenship.
He’s been among the top scorers for the past three seasons at the club where it all began for Tristan before Sporting offered him a step up.
Aydan, whose been playing for the U-19s despite his tender age, found a surprise ally in Socceroos great Kewell when the pair had a chance meeting at England’s St George’s Park training HQ last year - both showing up to watch Australia in action in a U-17 World Cup warm-up tournament.
With dreams of one day playing in England, Aydan had just come off a brief trial at Leeds United, the club where fellow winger Kewell built his his own formidable reputation.
“It was amazing meeting him - my dad (Shane) played with him when they were both at the NSW Institute of Sport and has always been a huge fan, just like me,” he explained.
“To get to meet him was just a different feeling. He took me aside and gave me a bit of a pep talk and was interested that I’d trained with Leeds.
“It would be incredible to achieve what he’s done - he gave me so much advice and told me to forget about the parties and just work hard and stay focused.
“He said the more I put in the further I’ll go.”
Hammond, who also speaks Spanish and Portuguese, has gratitude to the club which has given him his chance, but is eyeing the UK as his next destination.
“That’s the ultimate goal for me,” he added. “It hasn’t been easy but I’ve won the respect of my teammates.
“I’ve scored quite a few goals over the last few years, and even though I’ve missed a lot of games, I’ve made that a big part of my game,” added Hammond, who top scored for his club last season.
“It’s different here to, say, England though because they don’t tend to push the younger players through so quickly (to the senior ranks).
“In England you see it happening a lot - so long as you’re fit and ready.”
With Tristan already established with the green and gold and now graduating to the Young Socceroos, Aydan would love to tread the same path.
“That would be amazing - but you have to keep working for that and I need to make a bigger name for myself,” he added.
“I need to achieve more to get to that point. It’s all up to God - put your trust in him and things will go right.”
Morgan, who called Aydan into a single camp, said: “Seeing his brother playing for Australia gives him a tremendous amount of motivation.
“We saw him in that one camp but didn’t think he was quite ready. But he’s kept having a go and is chipping away.”
Dad Shane, once on the books of Melita Eagles and Sydney Olympic, said: “Aydan’s done well. He’s been top scorer for the past three years but being a foreigner it’s that much harder to make it in Portugal.”