• Young Australia striker Jamie Maclaren boasts a remarkable scoring record
  • Maclaren: "I always strive to achieve bigger things"
  • Australia open their campaign against Germany on Monday

By Pete Smith with Australia

Visit the family home of Australia striker Jamie Maclaren on the semi-rural outskirts of Melbourne and you can see tangible evidence of how a football dream started. Alongside a rickety full-sized home-built goal, there is still a groove in the ground where an aspiring lightweight youngster spend countless hours building his physique by running with a weight dragging behind.

Now a decade on, one of Australia’s hottest prospects is on the verge of a major milestone in his burgeoning career at this week’s FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017. It will be a first appearance at a senior international tournament for a player whose recent club form suggests he could be a Socceroos’ goalscoring hero in the years to come.

Australia will open their Russia 2017 campaign against Germany in Sochi on Monday, before further group outings against Cameroon and Chile. Next season the 23-year-old will line up at Bundesliga 2 side Darmstadt, adding another small sub-plot to the Socceroos match-up against the world champions.

“Competing at Russia against teams that have won the World Cup, the EURO, the South American champions - it is the kind of thing you dream of doing as a kid,” Maclaren told FIFA.com. One senses this is a player not only in love with the game, but energised by it.

Two hugely productive seasons have left Maclaren with an extraordinary record of 51 goals in 70 A-League starting appearances.

He concluded the recent campaign with Brisbane Roar by collecting a share of the competition’s golden boot, becoming only the third Australian to win the award over the past nine seasons. The accolade added to an already bulging sideboard which includes two A-League Young Player of the Year awards.

In the blood
Football was part of daily life for as long as Maclaren can remember. Father Donald played for Hearts' youth team in Scotland, before stints in the US and then Australia. His uncle Ross, meanwhile, was in the junior ranks at Rangers and played extensively in England’s lower leagues. “It is in the blood, it is in the family,” said MacLaren.

“My parents have done a lot for me,” Maclaren said, referencing his mother taking the aspiring professional on a two-hour round-trip every weeknight night for training. “As a young kid, they spent a lot of money making sure I had everything I needed. It is something I am very thankful for.

“My parents believed in me. Every time I take the field I feel blessed because of what they have done for me. People don’t realise the person I am today is because of what happened 15 years ago.

“And the journey has just started. I’m the kind of person who always wants to strive to achieve bigger things.”

The coming fortnight in Russia is the perfect stage for Maclaren to start achieving those ‘bigger things’.