WHEN Edgeworth were planning to push for a record 13th top-division premiership and fifth in a row, Daniel Fabrizio was going to be one of the aces in their pack.
The former Belconnen and Canberra Youth livewire, though, took a lot longer than expected to come back from a knee reconstruction.
And while the Eagles fell short of the premiership, Fabrizio proved worth the wait on Sunday with a stunning two-goal performance in a 2-0 grand final victory over Maitland at Magic Park.
The 21-year-old bundled over a ball from close range in the 81st minute then hit a screamer in the 88th minute to seal the victory.
Keanu Moore headed a Josh Rose ball back across goals to find Fabrizio for the opener but the attacking midfielder did it all himself from 20 metres out for the second to find the bottom-right corner of goals.
It was a remarkable effort from Fabrizio, who was playing just his sixth league match for the Eagles' top-grade squad after four in under 20s.
Edgeworth coach Damian Zane had hoped to have Fabrizio on board last season but an anterior cruciate ligament injury 18 months ago ended those plans. A meniscus injury and other complications extended his recovery.
Fabrizio was pleased to repay the Eagles' faith and patience on Sunday.
"You just don't know when you're going to be ready," Fabrizio said.
"Damian wanted me a couple of years ago and he had faith in me that I'd come back, and then this year to still wait.
"That game in the semi-final, that's when I started sort of getting back into it, I pushed through the second semi-final and it all worked out today.
"I owed him something and this is the least I could do.
"I knew I had to come out here and play a good game, and I live for those sorts of games. I'm just glad I could give the team a result.
"They've been waiting half the year, and two years, for me, so I'm glad I could do something."
Fabrizio and midfield partner Moore were the Eagles' best attacking weapons on Sunday and both went close to scoring twice before the late goals.
Eagles skipper Josh Evans was named man of the match for his effort at the back but Zane believed Fabrizio was his side's best.
"It's taken longer than expected and he's still not quite there," Zane said.
"He's still got a lot left in him, but it was great to see him like that.
"I thought he was our man of the match. All game he was dangerous. I thought Josh was superb, too, but I just thought a performance like that, with two goals."
Fabrizio, who won two grand finals with Belconnen and one with Young Harris College in the US, hoped the performance would help kick-start his career.
"I do aspire to reach my potential, whether that's here, interstate or overseas," he said. "I've played national youth league, so I'm really trying to do something with football."