If you have something to fight for, you are always going to fight for it.- ANGUS THURGATE
Angus Thurgate is no longer the home-grown kid trying to make a go of it in the A-League.
Even though Thurgate played all his junior football in Port Macquarie at the Port Saints, now Newcastle have claimed him as one of their own - and it's little wonder why.
Thurgate is one of the bright lights in a competition in need of beacons.
A bona fide star.
That doesn't mean the 22-year-old is satisfied. The opposite.
Watch the gut-busting runs, his willingness to track back, the last-ditch tackles, the dog-at-a-bone approach to winning the ball - the extra efforts that have endeared the 'Energiser Bunny' midfielder to teammates and fans alike.
"If you have something to fight for, you are always going to fight for it," Thurgate said.
"This club has been great to me since my academy days.
"Every time I step onto that pitch, I am playing for the supporters and the club. It means a lot to be playing for Newcastle and every time I go out there, I try to repay that."
Born in Port Macquarie, Thurgate moved to Newcastle aged 15 to join the Jets academy.
It's no surprise that the Jets faithful now consider the box-to-box midfielder one of their own.
around the ground. So too when fellow graduate Archie Goodwin is on the pitch.
"I don't notice it when I am out there. I get in the zone," Thurgate said.
"I can see it from a local's perspective; you love to see people from your area playing and doing well.
"The more success we have, the more local players that can come through and the better it will be for the club.
"It shows there is a pathway there. Myself and Archie have come through the academy. It shows that the academy is there and that it is working. It shows Newcastle kids that there is a career in football if you work hard for it."
Industrious is a tag Thurgate has carried since he first stepped onto McDonald Jones Stadium for his debut as a 17-year-old in 2018.
But he is not all blue collar.
His touch, vision and ability to thread a pass came to the fore last season. So too did goals. It was the bullet missing from his arsenal.
It all added up to Thurgate collecting the A-League's young player of the year gong and appearing on the radar of Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.
"It was a really good year for him," Jets coach Arthur Papas said.
"He is one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league and was spoken about at national team level.
"That now is a minimum expectation.
"He has a tremendous physical capacity. He has the ability to score goals and is a strong leader in the group as well. There is no ceiling on where he can go."
Whether he is on the ball, bursting into space or breaking down play, there is a buzz.
With increased output comes higher expectations.
"Arthur spoke to me about it in the preseason," Thurgate said. "There will be expectations on me. I enjoy that extra responsibility."
Thurgate has grown - matured - since his shy teenage days, where media interviews consisted of cliched, one-sentence answers. Deer in a headlight stuff.
Now, his responses are measured, thoughtful and often provide a different perspective to a line of questioning.
"With anything, you become more comfortable with it," he said.
It is also a mirror of his development on the pitch.
"You get in the zone and everything becomes easier," he said. "You feel more relaxed out there.
"I realised that last year, especially in big moments. Previously I'd panic a bit but with experience you can calm yourself down and just play your football.
"You play with freedom. That is what the coaching staff want us to do. The way we play is free-flowing. I have put the attacking aspect to the front of my mind."
Thurgate is off contract at the end of the season.
Connor Metcalfe and Cam Devlin - players of a similar age and talent to Thurgate - have made successful moves to Europe in the past 12 months.
"If I can start strongly, hopefully I can go places," he said. "Europe is the goal.
"The aim is to start the season where I left off last year, score a few goals and put myself in the frame.
"We created a base last year on how we wanted to play and the style we wanted to play.
"We have added some new people to the mix. Hopefully we get that right, it is more balanced, and we can really kill off teams.
"Last year, we played some good football but in crucial moments, we weren't making correct decisions.
"We are in it together. We know that without team success, individual success isn't capable.
"We are all willing to work hard for each other."
For Thurgate, that is a bare minimum.
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