Monday, 8 March 2010

Time to salute Australia's finest: Harry Kewell

There was a time Australia never made it to the World Cup. With Harry Kewell we got to two, it was so very nearly four.

If anyone ever doubted his contribution to Australian football, it's surely time to take a moment.

Often criticised for not playing enough, not doing enough for the Green and Gold, since his return to football from his Liverpool injuries he's hardly missed a game for Australia, across all the Asian nations.

Harry has taken us to two World Cups. But it could have been so much more.

The boy wonder scored in Tehran as a very young man, in front of 110,000 men in 1997 in the first leg of the World Cup Qualifier. He scored again in Melbourne. Two goals from a young man in massive games.

It wasn't enough. It should have been and Australia would have been at the World Cup in France. Pretty close weren't we.

And if we'd have made that one, the experience we would have gained, who would have been surprised if a Harry Kewell inspired Socceroos would have overturned Uruguay in 2001. Not me. We nearly did, the third goal only coming in Montevideo in the closing minutes.

A little more experience, a little more self-belief, self-confidence and we could have made that World Cup as well.

And of course, if Harry Kewell had played against Italy in 2006, ten man Italy, would we have won?

We'll never know.

As the sunsets on Australia's greatest footballers' international career we should enjoy and remember the journey.

South Africa will be Harry's finale? Or will it. Surely if Ryan Giggs can play centre-midfield for Manchester United at 35, Harry could remain in the Socceroos for the 2014 World Cup. Not as a winger but as a midfielder who can control, pass and audaciously split a defence. With younger runners around him, and the dearth of talent coming through Harry's light may shine a while yet.

Either way Harry Kewell has taken us to two World Cups, not without help, but his contribution to Australian football has been immense.

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