It’s not the destination that matters, but the journey.

It’s an expression often overused in sport but for Connor Pain it couldn’t be more accurate.

Since moving from Melbourne Victory to Central Coast Mariners over the winter in search of more opportunities, the speedy winger’s career has been re-invigorated.

“I’ve really enjoyed it,” Pain says when asked how the change has worked out.

“Having come up here after not playing as much as I would have liked last season and the season before, to be welcomed really well from the fans and players has been great so far.”

Despite his time at Victory being underwhelming, Pain insists the move was not about proving himself to others, rather himself.

“I just wanted to prove to myself really, I’ve always believed that I could play at this level and obviously throughout times when you’re not playing as much you start to doubt that.”

That doubt has been ebbing away, especially in the wake of his match-winning goal against Adelaide United in Round 5, the Mariners’ first victory of the campaign.

“It helped me calm down and took a bit of pressure off my shoulders.”

“Obviously I would have liked to have a couple more by now but as long as I’m creating chances for the boys in the middle then I’m doing my job.”

Talking to Pain it is obvious his mind is fairly focused on the immediate job, that is helping his teammates, not just himself.

“It [the move] was about trying to play more minutes at a personal level but also about trying to help the club start to climb the table off not a great campaign last season.

“I think we’re playing a lot better football at the moment.

“I think there’s a few games that exemplify that point as opposed to last season where the team was getting beaten by heavy scores a lot of weekends.

“We’re in every game bar one or two this season so far and we believe we could have gotten more out of it but that’s on us as well, we have to be better in finishing off our chances and not conceding as many goals.”

When pressed on what the Mariners should aim for, Pain avoids talk of silverware, once again focusing on the method as opposed to the result.

“Into the future we just want to keep climbing the table towards where this club really should be and historically where this club has been.”

Much of that revival is down to one man, Paul Okon.

The rookie coach arrived at Terrigal after Tony Walmsley was given the flick and his announcement ticked all the boxes for Pain.

“It’s been great, obviously I know him from the Young Socceroos so it was a breath of fresh air when I saw his name was the one that was coming in.”

Pain believes that Okon has a very similar footballing philosophy to his previous managers at Melbourne Victory, attacking and pleasing on the eye.

“At a professional level I’ve had three fairly similar coaches,” he explains.

“Obviously Paul puts his stamp on things differently as did Musky and Ange so it’s all different variations of a game that try to play an attractive brand of football and excite the fans as well to get results.”

The mere mention of Postecoglou leads on tot the inevitable question regarding Pain’s short time in green and gold.

When asked if he is determined to re-enter the national set-up, his response is politely dismissive, once again putting the focus back onto the job at hand.

“It’s not really in the mind at all to be honest,” he explained.

“You always dream of making it back into the Socceroos mix but at the moment I’m just firmly focused on playing well and trying to do my best for the team.

“I know I’ve got lot more important work to do before I can be even spoken about in that regard.”

There it is again, the here and now, not what might be.

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Third year Sports Media student at the University of Canberra. Interests include sports history and stats...you know, all the fun stuff.