Over the course of our A-League 2020/21 campaign, Brisbane Roar blooded no fewer than six BRFC Academy products as talented young locals continued to earn elite opportunities with Queensland's only professional club.
Warren Moon's strong belief in homegrown players and the Club's commitment to youth development led to A-League appearances for 13 players aged 23 and under, all while reaping on-field rewards as the Roar exceeded external expectations with a fourth-placed finish.
Continuing today with Keegan Jelacic, we're recapping the recent achievements of the Academy graduates who broke through for professional debuts.
Having played under him at Lions FC, Jelacic entered the new campaign as a known quantity for Head Coach Moon.
The talented attacker was involved from the beginning of pre-season, featuring regularly and producing a particularly impressive performance in Mackay against Magpies Crusaders.
Jelacic started, scored and was described by Moon as a "standout" performer.
He was on target again in the Dolphin Community Shield clash with Peninsula Power, setting a strong platform for the season to come.
Jelacic's exciting pre-season form led to his inclusion in the squad for the Matchweek 4 meeting with Newcastle Jets, a 2-1 win for Brisbane.
He remained a fixture in the matchday squad over the next month, earning an A-League debut when the Roar welcomed Melbourne Victory to Moreton Daily Stadium on 6 February.
The 18-year-old appeared in the late stages of a rollicking 5-2 win that day and, having continued to make progress in training, was called into action again during an away trip to Perth Glory.
He featured for the final 17 minutes of the Matchweek 10 fixture at HBF Park, recording 15 touches and contesting two tackles and five duels during an energetic cameo.
On the comeback trail
Having scored twice and appeared in each of Brisbane Roar Youth's first four NPL Queensland fixtures in March, Jelacic was in contention for more A-League minutes leading into the latter stages of the season.
However, an injury sustained at that time prevented him from stepping back into a matchday squad after the 6 March draw against Sydney FC.
Sidelined in recent months, the New Zealand youth international made an important leap forward this week when he returned to training with Chris Grossmann's Young Roar.
The next goal will be to develop match fitness via the Academy's Under-23s side and, with half an NPL Queensland campaign still to play, there's plenty of time for him to build momentum towards the new A-League campaign.