An early affinity for cross country and an outstanding natural physic have been credited by Wellington Phoenix starlet Liberato Cacace for his spooky ability to open up games as the clock ticks down.
The left-back is able to make the most of his youthful legs to stretch the opposition down his flank and cause problems for them as he overlaps and provides ammunition into the box for his forwards.
And Cacace, who is highly rated within the Phoenix set-up, credits his high school days with providing him the skills to do so.
“I think it’s because I’m 19! I’ve always had it (good fitness),” said the starlet. “Back when I was at school I was quite a fit boy and I was running cross country, but I think I’ve got a good running physique and hopefully I can use that in games.”
The youth team graduate scored his first of the season as the Nix beat Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 at home and will want to continue to be effect at the pointy end of the pitch. The modern way is for full-backs to attack and defend, look at Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool, and Cacace wants to follow in their footsteps.
“It’s always good to score a goal. I do come alive at the end of the game in the last few games and it was good to contribute to the team and get all three points,” he added.
With two goals and three assists in his career, the Kiwi certainly does have some work to do in this regard - but he’s only young and is already playing a lot of football. These things will aid his development, as will the hard work he’s putting in on the training ground.
“It’s a big task of mine to get up and down, cross the ball and I’m working really hard on that final delivery and hopefully I can set up one of the strikers in the weeks to come,” continued Cacace.
He’s got 18 months left on his contract and wants to get to Europe and play at the highest level. With that fantastic natural engine, a willingness to work and an appreciation of what he has to do in order to improve, you wouldn’t bet against the former cross country runner reaching those heights.