Asked which two players they were most looking forward to seeing in the 2009 Under-20 World Cup, most Australian fans would have replied with Aaron Mooy and Dean Bouzanis.
Less than six months prior to the World Cup Mooy, the Bolton youth-teamer, was named player of the tournament in the prestigious Terborg Toernooi competition while playing for the Young Socceroos against the likes of Liverpool, Ajax and Valencia.
Bouzanis, meanwhile, had been with Liverpool for a couple of years and was rated by Rafael Benitez as the world's best 'keeper in his age group.
Of even more interest was that we knew Mooy as a creative attacking midfielder, a type of player lacking at senior national team level, while Bouzanis' selection in the squad was to seal his allegiances to Australia and ward off Greek overtures.
Ultimately the campaign was disappointing. Jan Versleijen's first major tournament in charge failed to inspire much confidence for the future: a trio of fairly resounding losses to Czech Republic, Costa Rica and Brazil culminating in a first round exit at the bottom of the group. Our first look at Mooy, however, was encouraging.
At that time he was yet to break into the first-team at Bolton and, despite being highly rated within the club, still hadn't made any headway by mid-2010, at which point he rejected a contract offer in search of first-team football, citing Holland, Italy and Germany as possible destinations.
Of all places, Aaron ended up at Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren - not exactly the technically-driven European league he might have hoped for (no offence to St. Mirren fans - indeed, any club with a 'Dorman' formerly on their books is fine by me).
Six months and seven starting appearances later, Mooy has another decision to make. Does he take the contract extension on offer, hope he can make more of an impact next season and begin his quest to grab the attention of bigger clubs? Or does he reassess, take another chance, and come home to the A-League?
You would hope young overseas Aussies see the latter as a viable option; at this point in time the majority are still probably in the 'wait it out in Europe' camp, though Aaron Mooy could be the guy to change that mindset.
Moreover, A-League clubs should be desperately chasing him. If they aren't there is something fundamentally wrong with our clubs recruiting. Only 20 years of age, Australian, classy on the ball and hungry for senior football; heck, throw a junior marquee contract at him!
Melbourne Heart have advertised themselves as a club keen on attractive, passing football with a penchant for blooding youth, and are just one of several A-League outfits who should be lining up for his services. Not to mention that he would be a perfect fit for the 'number 10' position they have said to be chasing.
If Mooy were to back himself and his talent just as he did in leaving Bolton, a couple of strong seasons in the A-League would help him angle for a better opportunity overseas more than intermittent appearances for St. Mirren could ever do (and provide a cash boost for a club here, too).
Bouzanis is a slightly different proposition. In all likelihood he was never going to progress to being first-choice at Liverpool, no matter how talented. It just rarely happens in modern football. Being a 'keeper and only turning 21 this year, Dean can probably afford to spend a couple of more seasons on a bench somewhere in Europe without compromising his development.
There is said to be significant interest in his abilities emanating out of Greece, namely Olympiacos, which is frightening for us Australians; even if he isn't destined to reach the lofty heights predicted by Benitez it's nice to have depth in the national team stocks. There wouldn't be a shortage of suitors elsewhere in Europe for an Anfield alumnus either, but that doesn't mean an A-League club shouldn't be pressing hard to bring him home. Sydney FC should be at the front of the queue, and not just for the good of the Socceroos.
We may not yet be at the stage where we can reasonably hope to keep our most talented youngsters in Australia for too long, but we can expect to entice them back to the A-League if they aren't succeeding overseas. Clubs have to start making a statement of intent in this regard. Ryan McGowan, another 2009 U-20 World Cup squad member, and Matthew Park, a naturally left-sided defender/midfielder, are just two more potential targets in Scotland alone.
Oli Bozanic, Scott Jamieson and Rostyn Griffiths have set the platform for returning Australian youth, now it's time to begin targeting the cream of the crop.