Jamie Maclaren's only experience of A-League Men grand final glory so far is sitting in hotel quarantine watching his Melbourne City teammates lift the trophy from afar, and it's one the Socceroo is determined to change.
Maclaren, Curtis Good and Connor Metcalfe missed out on City's breakthrough triumph last season after being overseas for the Socceroos' World Cup qualifiers
The striker booked another shot at the big stage by scoring an extra-time winner in City's 2-1 semi-final second leg victory over Adelaide on Sunday, teeing up a grand final berth against Western United at AAMI Park next Saturday.
"It's special. Obviously playing in a grand final is the biggest thing you can do in the A-League and I missed out on last year sitting in the hotel watching both the semi-final and the grand final," Maclaren told reporters.
"So it will be nice and something that we've earned throughout the whole year, us boys that missed out and we can't wait for this week for the build up."
City are aiming to become the first ALM team to complete back-to-back premiership-championship doubles in the league's first all-Victorian decider.
Maclaren will also have to best a former mentor.
John Aloisi coached Brisbane Roar when Maclaren was their star striker and he has Western United unbeaten in three clashes against City this season.
"I've obviously worked under Johnny very well. He sets his team up front to back really well and there have been tough encounters this year. No doubt about it," Maclaren said.
"They're very structured at the back, very hard to break down.
"But in a grand final, whoever takes their chances will win the game and I believe that we've got enough quality in our front third."
Maclaren failed to score in City's 2019-20 grand final loss to Sydney FC but said he'd learned from the experience.
"Just try and enjoy that moment. You've worked so hard to reach the pinnacle, which is a grand final," he said.
"You've also got to realise that in some of these games, big moments are happening and I believe that once a big moment comes, if it does fall to me then I have to be on my toes and ready for it to happen.
"All in all, the occasion is going to be great. It's an all-Melbourne final and being a proud Melbourne boy it's actually nice to see two quality Melbourne sides (in the decider)."
Australian Associated Press
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