A Blue Mountains soccer wunderkind is swapping Winmalee for the Iberian Peninsula, and the Nepean for the Tagus, after signing a contract with a professional Portuguese club.
Braeden Andreotti is 17 years old and currently taking his HSC at Winmalee High School. A prodigious soccer talent who has been playing since the age of three, he was recently plucked from the Lower Mountains to sign a one-year contract with Lisbon-based club Casa Pia who compete in Portugal's second division, Liga Portugal 2.
Andreotti will play for the club's under-19 team.
As a child Andreotti started out with Springwood United before playing with the AC Milan Academy at Homebush. He has also represented Apia Leichardt, Sydney Olympic and Western Sydney Wanderers. In 2015, he was one of three Australians selected to train and play with the academy at German Bundesliga club, FC Schalke 04. And like many young and ambitious sporting talents, his commitment has been total.
"The travelling to training, which has been up to five times a week, and juggling my school, is still going on today," Andreotti told the Gazette. "It has been a very hard and demanding journey, full of sacrifices, such as not being able to socialise with friends after school, as we were constantly driving to training from 3pm on most days and getting back home at 9pm."
Andreotti's father, Max, who played at a high level in Italy himself, has been pivotal in the development of his career. Max runs the One Goal Futbol academy, which played a key role in his son's soccer journey.
The move to Portugal came about after Andreotti was approached by consultants the Joga Bonito Football Academy, who requested a CV and video highlights reel. Within 48 hours a deal was on the table and Andreotti was signed up to the one-year contract with Casa Pia, with the option of a one-year extension.
"I have decided to accept their offer and further my football development overseas, and head off in October to hopefully one day land a professional contract in Europe," he said. "By accepting this offer, my dream of becoming a professional footballer is looking brighter every day.
"This was not an easy journey for me at times, as I felt on many occasions that it wouldn't lead to anything, but I persisted and believed in myself, and others believed in me and pushed me to get to where I am today."
Andreotti plays as a right wing or wingback, and is a fan of both AS Roma in Italy's Serie A and Manchester City in the English Premier League. Players he admires, and models his own game on, include Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Italy's Francesco Totti.
"My love and passion for the game has been a part of me for many years," he added, "and I'm looking forward to the next chapter playing abroad."