Lino looks to make an impact with inspiring story

Athletic full-back, Franco Lino, has already caught the eye with his impressive performances for Melbourne Victory’s NPL3 side. At just 17 years old, the left full-back has already attracted attention from senior team coaches and is eager to prove his worth.

Born and raised in Melbourne, Franco’s parents hail from South Sudan and fled the war-torn country in 2003 for a better life. Growing up in a large family of six children, Franco was always surrounded by the support and love of his siblings, who provided him with the encouragement he needed to pursue his passion for football.

Franco Lino training with the A-League Men’s squad

“Football carried on from my brothers. I had an older brother who used to play football. I used to go and watch his games. Having a brother, someone to have a kick with, someone to connect with, it was great,” said Franco.

Despite living in Pakenham, over an hour away from Melbourne Victory’s training ground, Franco was determined to chase his dreams of playing at the highest level. He took public transport to and from training four times a week, sacrificing his free time to develop his skills.

Lino celebrates with teammates after a goal against Essendon Royals

“Getting to training wasn’t easy. My family would be working and unable to take me, so I used to take a 90-minute train to training, up and back, straight after school, four times a week. I did it because of the environment, the good coaches, I wanted to play with the best.”

In 2017, at the age of 12, Lino was recruited to the inaugural Melbourne Victory Academy program. Since then, he has progressed through the ranks and has played for every age group, learning from a variety of coaches, and playing against older and more experienced players.

“When I first signed, I was in the Under 15s and was playing against players who were one or two years older than me. The Academy has helped my development a lot, having the different coaches and always getting pushed.” he said.

Franco Lino at A-League Men’s training

Known for his speed and agility on the field, with a natural talent for going forward, Lino is thankful to Joe Palatsides for helping him improve his game and pushing him to be the best he can be.

“I’ve had Joe Palatsides as my coach for two years. He’s a very good coach. He works hard to improve us. He pushes us in every training session. This year has been great. Obviously, the start we’ve had has been good and he sets our standards high to win every game,” said Franco.

Despite his youth, Franco has already trained with the senior team on several occasions and is determined to keep pushing himself to reach new heights.

“Tony Popovic has told me to keep going and to keep working hard. He points out ways that I can improve my game – little details here and there. I want to go as high as possible. To keep climbing and keep going up. I’d like to become a professional footballer, but most importantly, to enjoy what I do.”