Mark Milligan has vowed to take Sydney FC to back-to-back A-League titles and erase the personal devastation of missing last season's grand final through suspension.
The 22-year-old has enjoyed a dream 12 months - travelling to Germany as part of Australia's World Cup squad and then making his Socceroos debut.
But with the A-League finals series to kick-off on Friday night, Milligan admits the pain of having to watch Sydney's 1-0 triumph over Central Coast at a packed Aussie Stadium last March continues to burn.
"There is a bit of an empty spot I guess, when you see especially the DVD's from last year when we're all standing on stage and I've still got my suit on. I didn't want to be in that suit," said Milligan.
Sydney FC plays Newcastle at Aussie Stadium on Friday in the first leg of their elimination semi-final.
"I guess there is a feeling of being a little incomplete last season. My time at Sydney is a little incomplete without that grand final."
The versatile defender feared he would again miss Sydney's final game of the season when he was suspended for last week's clash with Queensland Roar.
Fortunately for Milligan, Sydney drew 1-1 to clinch fourth spot and give the rising star another shot at grand final glory.
"Like I said to my mum on the weekend, I didn't want to miss the last game of the season again.
"The boys got us through, and I'm determined personally to see it out, to go all the way for the club and for the team and for myself, because I did miss out on it last year.
"Not that I really need any more motivation ... but it will make it that little bit more special if we do get there.
"I've been on a high for the last 12 months and hopefully it's not going to finish soon, hopefully a grand final will just be a part of that.
"I missed out on the grand final last year and it's something that I want on my resume."
While anxious to be forced off the pitch with a one-match ban last week, Milligan said the rest did have its advantage.
"I've been nursing an ankle injury for about six weeks so it was actually good to give that a bit of a rest.
"But I'm fighting fit now and ready to go."