Mark Birighitti was destined to be a footballer.
Growing up in Perth in a football-mad household, it did not take him long to fall in love with the game, with several family members – including his father Carlo – all having played.
The 28-year-old made his way from the Australian Institute of Sport to Adelaide United, before a regular football at the Newcastle Jets attracted European interest.
Now at the Central Coast Mariners, Birghitti – who became a dad on Saturday – says he would not be where he is today without the support of his father, who has guided him ever since he picked up a pair of gloves at age seven.
“Growing up being from Perth and coming from an Italian family, my father was a goalkeeper, my grandfather played, my uncles played so it was kind of drummed into me from early,” he said.
“I picked up the gloves from early on I was about seven-or-eight years old, my dad was my first coach and being a goalkeeper, he could see that I had potential. From 11-12 [years old] I started taking it a lot more seriously and I am grateful to have my dad, he’s been enormous in my career and if it wasn’t for him I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in today.”
Birighitti joined the Mariners ahead of this season after an unsuccessful spell at Melbourne City, where he sat behind Eugene Galekovic.
An emphatic win at the weekend against Melbourne Victory now brings them within touching distance of the top-six, with a finals berth being a key “objective” according to goalkeeper Mark Birighitti.
The last time the club took part in the finals series was in 2013/14 – under Phil Moss – where they were eliminated in the semi-finals by the Western Sydney Wanderers, after finishing 3rd in the league.
Three wooden spoons and two eighth placed finishes have followed since then, though optimism has return to the once crowned A-League champions – with this season’s squad already equalling last season’s points tally (13).
“Our objective as a playing group is to go on a run, we can’t afford to win one then lose two and then win again,” he told FNR.
“If you go on a bit of a run, win three or four games in a row you’re back in the top four even, so that’s the club’s objective at the moment. Not to get carried away, we keep working hard every day and trying to improve as best we can.
“We had a great result against Western United a couple of weeks ago beating them at home and we’ll be looking to go over to Melbourne on Sunday and put in a positive performance and go on a bit of a run.”
The Mariners meet Western United in Geelong this Sunday.