The near full house that flocked to Allianz Stadium for the battle between Sydney FC and the Jets was there to see superstars Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey.
By full-time Craig Goodwin was the name on most lips.
Don’t be mistaken. The headline acts lived up to the hype, but in terms of pure excitement it was hard to go past the Jets’ No.15.
Pushed forward on the left, Goodwin cut the Sydney FC defence to shreds.
He glided past players, got between defenders, beat them on the inside, skirted around them ... you name it.
He produced a slicing run and delightful chip for Newcastle’s third goal, had another shot cannon off the post and others flashed just wide.
Indeed, it was Goodwin’s dipping corner from the right that Sydney failed to clear that led to Ryan Griffiths opening the scoring.
Not bad for a 20-year-old rookie who was working at Kentucky Fried Chicken a year ago.
“He has this uncanny knack of beating players, which you saw, and with a bit of luck, he could have been pretty close to scoring a hat-trick,’’ Jets coach Gary van Egmond said.
‘‘He’s developing very nicely. He’s an interesting player. A very, very dedicated player.
‘‘I’m so happy for him because he’s one who will practise after training, doing free kicks and working on his game.
“I’m very happy for him that he’s put in a performance like he has and got himself a goal as well.’’
Goodwin was equally dangerous, minus the finished product, in the 2-0 loss to Adelaide in the first round.
That followed an outstanding pre-season peppered with goals, including a couple of spectacular long-range bombs.
At one point Goodwin was the Jets’ most dangerous player from left back.
He has been used in a more advanced role in the opening two rounds. Housemate Dominik Ritter has started on the left side of defence.
‘‘We have two good players there in Dominik and Craig,’’ van Egmond said.
‘‘The way we played, with Emile as target man and a half-midfielder, half-striker off Emile, it really suits Craig, who can get at players, has a good delivery and sets himself up with scoring opportunities.’’
Goodwin’s rise has not come out of the blue.
He was credited with one of the best debuts seen in the A-League for his dynamite performance for the Heart in a tense, scoreless Melbourne derby against the Victory at AAMI Park in round 20 last season.
At the time, Goodwin was on a youth team contract and worked at KFC to supplement his income.
He went on to play four games for the Heart, but with fellow whiz-kid Aziz Behich ahead of him in the pecking order of left backs in Melbourne he opted to join former coach Arthur Papas in Newcastle.
Papas has since moved to India, where he is in charge of the national under-20 team.
Goodwin, too, appears to have the world at his feet.