WHEN Sydney FC last played Central Coast, Peter Triantis' main worry wasn't stopping Mariner Tom Rogic, it was remembering who ordered the macchiato and whether the mochachino had one sugar or two.
That was late December. Now Rogic is playing in Europe, and Triantis has just signed a full-time contract with the Sky Blues. It's fair to say that things change pretty fast in the round-ball game.
On Saturday night, Triantis will pack his kit bag and head to Allianz Stadium to mind the Mariners' attacking midfielders once more. This time, however, he does it on vastly different terms.
For the past two years, this very stadium teased and taunted Triantis as he drove down Anzac Parade towards Randwick. Teascapes - once described by the Herald as ''grungy but not grotty, unfussed but not uncaring'' - was where he was busy crafting his niche as the best barista on Perouse Road.
''Right up until that last Central Coast game, I was still working that week, still making coffees. I just needed the money. I didn't really have a choice. People might not know how little players on youth contract earn. It's hardly anything [about $5000 a season]. But it doesn't really faze me, though.''
Unlike most around him, the 21-year-old never took it for granted that he'd be a professional footballer. So he joined the rat race.
''I reckon I've tried a bit of everything,'' he laughs. ''Coffee shops, fruit shops, I've been in a mechanic's workshop. Another was in food processing. I've worked two or three jobs at once. I've always had to work. I haven't known any different.''
It almost sounds like a throwback to the days of the NSL, when only a select few were able to make a living from the game. ''I'm grateful to give up being a barista and become a footballer. I enjoyed it but, to me, this is really the dream,'' he says.
Triantis' work ethic has been heavily shaped by his upbringing, where it's been all hands on deck for the Hurstville family - not least since his father passed away during a blaze in his fruit shop in 2011. ''I come from a big family, and having nine brothers and sisters, I've had to help support them. I've always been a hard worker,'' he says. ''I don't think that becoming a professional footballer has been any different. You've always got to stick in and believe in yourself.
''I think that translates on to the park as well. My job is to work hard and get the ball for the more 'flairy' players, like Alessandro [Del Piero].''
Sharing a field with Del Piero, Brett Emerton, Lucas Neill and Joel Griffiths might be overwhelming for some but Triantis tries hard not to let it affect him.
''You know it's a big deal, especially … when you're with family and friends and they sit there and run through the names one by one,'' he says. ''But once you cross the line, it doesn't matter who it is, you've just got to do your job, regardless of who they are or where they've played. It's a balancing act. You have to show respect, however, and you have to listen.
''The things some of these guys have done in the game is incredible. If I do half of that, I'd be grateful.''
Advice isn't in short supply, either. The major source is his older brother Chris, who spent some of his junior years with FC Metz in France before signing with Sydney's youth team. He eventually managed three games with the Newcastle Jets.
''Chris keeps me very level-headed and down to earth, as every older brother does,'' Triantis says. ''Even now he's always ringing me telling me how he thinks I played - or usually where I can improve.''
Roundly regarded as one of the best players outside the A-League for many years, Chris's transition never materialised. However, the Triantis clan realised a remarkable opportunity last season - five brothers playing together, all in the same side at the Sydney Olympic. Next into the A-League ranks could be 19-year-old John, who has already shone at under-age level.
For now though, it's Peter's turn. Not that he's giving up his caffeine hit any time soon.
''You can't beat a good latte,'' he says. ''But only the way I make it.''
The story The cappuccino kid finally gets boots on for Sydney FC, proving he's not just froth and bubble first appeared on WA Today.