Zac Walker had what it takes to go all the way.
Walker burst on the scene as a 15-year-old for AWFA outfit Twin City Wanderers and took the competition by storm with his raw goal-scoring ability.
He became the first player to reach 50 goals in a league season - reaching the milestone in 2010 at just 18 years of age.
The record was only surpassed two years ago when Wangaratta's Adam Burchell finished the 2017 campaign with 51.
He went on to earn a trial with A-League outfit Melbourne Heart (now Melbourne City) and spent time in both the South Australian State League and Victorian Premier League, but was unable to pick up a senior contract in the national competition.
The 27-year-old has called an end to his decorated NPL career with Murray United and will play his final game for the Border outfit against Manningham United at La Trobe on Saturday.
Walker, one of only a handful of Border products to play all five seasons in Murray's senior side since its inaugural campaign in 2015, bows out as the club's leading goal-scorer with 56 goals from his 139 senior appearances.
But Walker is the first to admit he hasn't been at the peak of his powers this year.
The father of two wants to dedicate more time to his family, with wife Jessica, son Tatum, 5, and daughter Florence, 2, sacrificing a lot to support him on his journey.
"Nothing has really clicked for me this year and I've understood that. I've had chats with certain people where they've asked questions of me and I've completely agreed with them," Walker said.
"I've even swallowed the ego and said to my wife 'I'm not as good as I used to be'.
"I guess my mind has been wandering. When I travel away to Melbourne I'm always thinking of my family and my kids and what can I do, because it seems like I'm wasting my own time.
"I don't know about to put that in a polite, positive way, but I certainly haven't been up to it this year.
"I think I've realised priorities and for me, Murray's not quite there. It's got to be my kids and my work."
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Walker has known for a while this would be his final year in the state league and he's taken the time to reflect on a lot of memories.
"All the young kids coming through at Murray sort of reminded me of me," Walker said.
"I've been reminiscing times at Twin City and when I went over to West Adelaide, Melbourne Heart and also my time in the VPL (Victorian Premier League).
"It was all a great experience and I'm forever thankful I took the road I did.
"Things have gone the way they've gone and I've got a family and a full-time job, so it's pretty crazy.
"With the kids growing up, I need to be around more and I don't feel as passionate as I used to be with football.
"Murray United needs a new voice as their number nine and a new target man.
"It's been quite the journey, I've made some great friends along the way and still talk to those friends.
"I've seen some very dark times, but I've also seen some very bright times, so I've had the best of both worlds.
"Unfortunately for me I just wasn't able to make it professionally and that's the nail in the coffin for me.
"I was very close and I've got a great story to tell, but it's just unfortunate it doesn't involve a career in the A-League or with the Socceroos.
"I certainly believe I had all the characteristics and all the ability to play there, but at that level it's 'he said, she said'.
"At this point in time, I'm a bit over it and need a year off soccer or a year off altogether to spend time with my family.
"I think it's time to step up as a father. I've stepped up as a player, but I think it's time to hand the reins over to someone a bit younger with a bit more ambition and talent and let me be the father I want to be."
Walker believes if Murray United had been formed 10 years earlier, they could have had one of the most formidable squads in the league.
"When I was growing up, you had Mitch Jones up front, Ryan Luty was an absolute powerhouse, Ryan Giles at Albury Hotspurs was absolutely dominant, Cade Webb, Paul Hayes and even Brendan O'Connell at one point for Albury United," Walker said.
"I remember back in the day we had an all-star team and Melbourne Knights came here with their full strength team and we absolutely played them off the park and won the game.
"You could just imagine what we could have done with more time and everyone else together over a period of time and the things we could have achieved, but it's all a what-if."
Walker first joined Murray under inaugural coach Matt Gray, with Mick Richards, James Coutts and Elliot Jones to follow.
"I took a lot from Mick Richards, his demeanour, his attitude and that showed me a lot, but the biggest one for me was James Coutts and when he left, Elliot Jones," Walker said.
"For me, Elliot has been the perfect man manager. I've been around and had some amazing coaches who have been at the top level, but he just takes the cake.
"He knows exactly how to get to the best out of someone, whether it's being nice or being mad at them and he knows his stuff going forward.
"It's been a pleasure to be coached by EJ."
It will also be a farewell game as coach for Jones, who rates Walker, along with Luty, the most talented junior footballer he's seen.
"He could mix it with anyone and just had such an eye for goal," Jones said.
"He went on to be signed by Melbourne Heart and that didn't surprise anyone - he was a clear standout.
"Zac could have played at the highest level, it's a very fine line and sometimes it's a combination of form, coaches, opportunities and a fair bit of luck.
"For whatever reason, Zac didn't quite crack senior football at Melbourne Heart, but had a couple of really strong seasons with their youth side."
Jones admitted Walker was a "nightmare to defend" during his playing days at Albury United.
"I was getting on a bit by the time Zac was coming through, he was too slick for me and he doesn't mind reminding me of that," Jones laughed.
"I've enjoyed coaching and working with Zac - out of my top-five sprays, he's probably copped four of them (laughs).
"We've had a really honest relationship as player and coach and I appreciate that.
"I have plenty of great memories of Zac both playing against him and now at Murray - he always seems to find a way to score in the big games and moments
"I really think it's important to note he's still quite young, and, as much as he will step away next year, I honestly believe it may just be to recharge the batteries and perhaps we will see him in the Murray shirt again.
"I think he may have one last big game in him this Saturday."