Tim Cahill's protege Terry Antonis has signed a three-year deal with Sydney FC ahead of the A-League champions' friendly against the Premier League club that wanted his services, Everton.
Antonis, 16, is considered one of the brightest prospects in Australian football and was reportedly chased by Everton, Marseille and Inter Milan in recent years but the FFA blocked an overseas move using FIFA's new laws surrounding the transfers of youth players to big European clubs.
Now Antonis has opted to sign a three-year deal with Sydney FC and could make his first official appearance in sky blue when the club meet Everton in their high-profile pre-season warm-up match at ANZ Stadium on Saturday.
Everton and Australia star Cahill has spoken of his close relationship with Antonis, predicting great things for the attacking midfielder.
Cahill said: "He's a great kid … a very close family friend and someone that I feel is one of the rising stars of Australia. I love Terry - he's like a little brother to me. I train with him here. He was round my house on the weekend. I'll go down the park and have a kick with him. He's like family.
''This is a massive step for him in his career. It will be pretty weird playing against someone I admire a lot. He's a bright talent. I saw him when he was very young. As long as kids get looked after in the right way and can come through and be as good as they can be, that's the main thing.''
Antonis said: "It is great and I am really happy about joining Sydney FC. They are very professional and honest. The facilities here are really good and the coaching and club staff has been great to me already.
"Developing my game further is the most important thing and I feel I can do that the best here. I learnt a lot whilst I was at the AIS and playing against some of the best young players around really helped. We play Everton this Saturday so it doesn't get much bigger than that and I hope to get on and play. Sydney are the A-League champions, have the Asian Champions League later next year and some big games in the pre-season. It is very exciting to be this young and be involved in that."
Antonis played his youth football with Sydney clubs Sydney Olympic and Marconi Stallions and got an early taste of stardom when he was selected in a world-wide search for talent for a training video fronted by David Beckham at age 10. Antonis has officially signed for Sydney's youth team for the first two years of his contract, although he will train with the senior squad and feature at A-League level if he sufficiently impresses the coaching staff.