Young Aussie Feature: Bernie Ibini-Isei

When Graham Arnold named his squad to face Gold Coast in the Week 26 fixture, questions were asked about 18-year old Bernie Ibini-Isei.

When Graham Arnold named his squad to face Gold Coast in the Week 26 fixture, questions were asked about 18-year old Bernie Ibini-Isei. His only cameo in the Hyundai A-League prior to the Gold Coast match was against Wellington Phoenix last season.

His twenty minutes appearance made him the youngest player to ever pull on a Mariners jumper at 17 years and 155 day. However for the Week 26 fixture, he was thrown straight into the starting line-up.

Bernie did not take long make a name for himself by scoring in the 13th minute of his Hyundai A-League full debut. Apart from scoring the goal to start Mariners account, Bernie proved to be a constant threat to the Gold Coast defence with his pace and trickery on the wings. Although he was substituted in the 58th minute, Arnold rewarded Bernie-s excellent performance with another start in the final weekend derby match against Newcastle Jets.

"He's a very good prospect, quick and scores goals. He's actually the leading goalscorer in the National Youth League,” said Arnold.

Born in Nigeria, Bernie immigrated to Australia when he was a baby. He grew up in Sydney-s Western suburbs and represented Marconi-Blacktown youth team in the New South Wales Premier League. He is also a product of Westfield Sports High in Sydney and went to school at the same time as young Mariners goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Central Coast Mariners did not waste any time to sign him for their youth team in 2009 and was promoted to the senior team, where he made his debut on 12 February 2010, in their round 27 clash against Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium.

His clinical finishing in the National Youth League this season not only put him as the leading goalscorer with 12 goals but it also caught the eye of Graham Arnold. With injuries to Matt Simon and Adam Kwasnik in the last two weeks of the regular season, Bernie was given the opportunity and he did not waste it.

Bernie hopes his bold performance in the 2010/11 season will earn him a senior full-time playing contract for the next season. He also holds the ambition of playing for the green and gold and follow the footsteps of Kofi Danning and Kamal Ibrahim, who are both progressing through the national system.

For the fans of the Bernie Ibini-Isei-s, this will not be the last we hear of that name as Bernie-s younger brother, Josh, is also catching the eye and is rated by his club Marconi-Blacktown first team coach.