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Fan turned Victory gun Velupillay set for ALM decider

3 minute read

Nishan Velupillay grew up supporting Melbourne Victory from the terraces and will now represent the club in the A-League Men grand final against Central Coast.

ARCHIE THOMPSON. Picture: Tony Feder/Getty Images

Nishan Velupillay grew up on the AAMI Park terrace idolising Archie Thompson and dreaming of following in his Melbourne Victory hero's footsteps.

Now 23, Velupillay has the chance to deliver his boyhood club - and his fellow fans - a record-equalling fifth A-League Men championship.

Velupillay and Victory take on Central Coast in Gosford in Saturday's decider - the biggest game of his young career, and the club's first grand final in six years.

"It's where I think Melbourne Victory should strive to be and should be," Velupillay told AAP.

"It was good times supporting Victory, and then to get into the system and now to play for them is a dream come true.

"Hopefully we get that northern terrace down to Gosford and they can support us for the whole game."

Velupillay remembers watching Victory play in grand finals when he was a kid - and as he got older, he started going to games on a regular basis.

"I was really young, probably like eight to 12,13 (years) I started going," he said.

"I liked watching Archie, Marco Rojas - more the forwards. There was a range of players that I loved watching.

"To see them win titles was always special, and they'll be remembered in the history of the league and the history of Melbourne Victory.

"That's what we're trying to do - create some history as well."

Victory haven't beaten the Mariners this season, with two draws and one loss against the premiers.

But they hadn't beaten Wellington either until last week's semi-final triumph in extra-time.

"Whenever we faced these top teams, it's always been tight," Velupillay said.

"They're a good team. We know they have a lot of threats up front and are also pretty solid defensively.

"So it's going to be a tough game - it's the grand final for a reason and we're expecting it to be very difficult.

"But also we believe that we can go there and play our football and then get the win."

Velupillay has had an impact as both a starter and substitute this season - and insists he is happy to do either for coach Tony Popovic.

He also wants to end his season on a high.

Velupillay, Ryan Teague and Jordi Valadon were part of the Olyroos team that crashed out of the U23 Asian Cup in the group stage, ending their dreams of reaching the Paris Olympics.

"That's what we were actually talking about when we got knocked out," Velupillay said.

"It was obviously disappointing to not get as far as we wanted, but we know that we've put in a really good shift this year (at Victory) and we don't want to be left empty-handed."

Star striker Bruno Fornaroli trained by himself at the club's open session at Gosch's Paddock on Tuesday.

But Victory indicated it was a matter of load management for the 36-year-old after a gruelling semi-final against Wellington.

Victory's other players trained as normal.

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