Plenty of eyebrows were raised in the off-season when Nikola Taneski joined Manly United.
The 23-year-old was a key player at Sydney United 58 FC in 2016, winning the league and the Waratah Cup.
He also played in the grand final for the Reds versus Blacktown City FC, and the electric winger was touted as a long-term favourite son at the Sydney United Sports Centre.
“Playing against Manly last year, you could see they were building as a team,” Taneski told Football NSW this week ahead of Sunday’s grand final versus APIA Tigers at Leichhardt Oval.
“Even though they lost both their semi-final games, it was obvious they were on the rise.
“Paul (Dee) gave me a call and I figured it was the right time for a new challenge.”
Taneski openly admits it has been a mixed year on a personal level.
He doesn’t hide his ambition, so being used as a ‘super sub’ by interim Manly boss Warren Grieve has come with its challenges.
“Obviously I would love to start, but I see the bigger picture,” he said.
“Everytime I come on I need to have a big impact for the team.
“I look to use my pace and run at defenders late in the game who are fatigued.”
Taneski is also desperate to break his grand final duck this weekend.
His trophy cabinet currently has runner up medals from Rockdale in 2014 and Sydney United 58 FC from 12 months ago.
“Hopefully it is third time lucky for me,” he said.
“Apart from the APIA loss at their place, our second half of the season has been great.
“I think we have won ten of our last 11 games, that is very hard to do at this level.
“We have momentum and while we definitely respect APIA, we know we can beat them if we play our game.
“One of the lads said at training this week Manly haven’t won (or played in) a grand final since 1995, so to be part of club history is motivating us all to get the win.”
Haven’t got your ticket yet for the big Grand Final this Sunday at Leichhardt Oval between APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Manly United – get yours today by clicking here to avoid the queues.