Holman fronts generation next
By Bren O'Brien in Johannesburg Sportal
While Brett Holman expresses mixed feelings over the 2010 World Cup, the attacking midfielder is now being targeted as the face of the next generation of Qantas Socceroos.
Australia may have bowed out at the group stage of the tournament, but for Holman, who has fought so hard to change the Australian public's impression of him as a player, it could prove the biggest turning point of his international career.
Holman scored two of Australia's three goals of the tournament and becomes just the second Australian to score multiple times in a World Cup. His second-half goal against Serbia was one of the best goals of the tournament and while conflicted about Australia's early exit, he knows this tournament could have provided him with the breakthrough he needed.
"It's mixed feelings. It's great to score two goals, but on the other hand I would have rather had not scored and have gone through to the next round. You try to weight it up, I'm happy but on the other hand I don't want to go home," he said.
For departing coach Pim Verbeek it was a vindication of the faith he had shown in the AZ Alkmaar striker over the past two and half years.
"I have always been a fan of Brett Holman. I was probably the only one in this room but I always thought he was very important for the team - the only thing he didn't do was scoring goals but the rest he always had such impact for the team," he said.
"He is an impact player not always starting, always positive and when he came in he was always doing a great job."
Team-mate Brett Emerton said Holman could be one of Australia's most valuable players in the coming years given he was starting to hit the back of the net regularly.
"Brett's shown his potential over the last couple of years. He plays that role in behind the strikers very well and looks like he's adding a few goals to his game, which will be a major help to us in the future," he said.
It completes an amazing month for Holman, who went into the friendly against New Zealand on May 24 needing to prove himself worthy of the final 23-man squad. He scored in that match and that helped state his case to Verbeek. From there it was just small goals.
"I just got into the 23 and the next dream was to play some minutes and then obviously you think about the game, it plays over in your head before the game. I guess you always think you are going to score before the game, but when it finally happens it's a great feeling," he said.
However, he denies any suggestions that he now has a sense of belonging among the Qantas Socceroos squad.
"I think I always belonged here. I felt a part of this team and a part of this group and the atmosphere was great, I always felt comfortable around all the boys, I don't think it feels different," he said.
"I'm just letting it all sink in, just to be part of the World Cup was my goal and now this is over, I will sit down and write down what sort of goals I'll have in the next four years and we'll go from there."
"I've always given my best in every other game I've played for Australia. It was lucky I scored those two goals in those two games but I always give my best when I play with the Aussies."
The future is a big thing for Holman, who must first sort out his club future before he starts thinking about Brazil 2014.
"We've got a new coach, a new technical director at AZ, I'll have to give him a call and meet up with him and we'll see how it goes," he said.
And after such an impressive World Cup showing, Holman is hoping it's the last time he has to answer a question about being the whipping boy of the Australian fans and the Australian press.
"You always cop criticism from everybody and anybody. You have to deal with this and prove them wrong," he said.