Who will stay and who will retire?
Once you have the taste for it, it’s hard not to want more of it. It happens in everyday life to all of us, with the most basic of things. It’s just the same with the biggest sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World Cup Finals.
Once you have the taste for it, it-s hard not to want more of it. It happens in everyday life to all of us, with the most basic of things. It-s just the same with the biggest sporting event on the planet, the FIFA World Cup Finals. David Cooper examines who might retire and who may stay on from the current squad.
Speaking to players after the Italy match, quite a few said the events of their three-week World Cup experience had left them with a taste for it and that they would dearly love to have that experience again.
But four years is a long time in football and the next World Cup is not till 2010 in South Africa. Form, injuries, personal pressures all play a part in deciding when a player decides to hang up his boots, or as many find out, when its decided for them.
Socceroos assistant coach Graham Arnold said earlier and after Australia-s final match that he expects 10-12 of the current squad will retire from the international scene. Now its unclear on whether he meant by the time the next World Cup comes along or whether he thought that would be immediate, but he basically believed a new era started the day after the match against Italy.
Given that many of this squad will still be of an age to play in the next World Cup finals in 2010, according to Arnold, a number will end their international careers earlier then expected.
Why? Simply all too hard battling their clubs and the long distances that Australian players need to travel to international matches and they have reached their goal of playing in a World Cup.
Mark Schwarzer, at 33 years of age now and 37 by the time South Africa comes along, is one of those being touted as retirement potential.
But not so, says the Middlesbrough shot-stopper, who publicly stated his desire to keep his international career going forward and he puts some of that to his experience here in Germany.
“I never said I was looking to retire after this,” Schwarzer said prior to the last match against Italy. “I always said I want to keep playing as long as I can.”
“Obviously there are some players that are possibly stopping after the World Cup, but I think you will be surprised it won-t be as many as you think. I think this (the World Cup) has really given a lot of the guys a new lease of life and I think that some of the guys will be definitely having second thoughts about whether they are going to retire or not.
“There is also that possibility, I think you will find that with us joining Asia as well and it-s a new beginning altogether, it-s a new experience which none of the guys have experienced before. I think a lot of the guys will be looking at it, thinking there-s the Asian Championships next year and the possibility they might be there as well.”
Captain Mark Viduka was non-committal about his international future, although he gave every indication that his family would come first in any decision he makes (listen to audio in Related Items).
So who from this squad is likely to be around come this time in four years (age they will be in 2010, based on roughly same dates for the tournament)?
We will also list those players who are likely to be pressing their claims in the coming years.
Mark Schwarzer (37) - Has said publicly he will continue playing international football for as long as he feels he is up to the standard required. If any position on the field allows for players of this age to continue at this level its goalkeepers. Zeljko Kalac (37) - Hasn-t indicated either way. Would need to be playing regular first team football, if he is to get another chance, something he is not doing at the present moment. Ante Covic (35) - If still playing at a decent level, could still be in there fighting for a place. Being here at the World Cup finals will have given him an appetite for more international football.
2010 hopefuls: Clint Bolton, Michael Petkovic, Brad Jones, Danny Vukovic, Eugene Galekovic
Tony Popovic (37) - Is one of the players expected to retire from international football, although if he returns to play in Australia, his experience may be welcomed in the next year or so. Stan Lazaridis (37) - Return to play in A-League could extend his international career for another year or two, but beyond that is unlikely. Craig Moore (34) - Form at World Cup suggests he can still play at international level for a few more years to come. However suffers from injuries on a regular basis, which may see him concentrate on his club football from now on. Lucas Neill (32) - Australia-s best player at the 2006 World Cup finals and some have him as the next captain of the Socceroos. Enough said. Scott Chipperfield (34) - Excellent World Cup and one player whose commitment and passion for the Green and Gold can never be questioned. Is still extremely fit and provided he can stay away from injuries, could still be in the reckoning in four years time. Michael Beauchamp (29) - The experience of being part of the 2006 WC squad and his recent move to Nurnberg in the German Bundesliga, should see him become a regular in a Socceroo shirt and in the mix for 2010. Mark Milligan (25) - Rising star and will have learnt a lot in Germany. Will be right in the running for 2010.
2010 hopefuls: Ljubo Milicevic, Patrick Kisnorbo, Stephen Laybutt, Adrian Leijer, Jon McKain, Michael Thwaite, Jacob Timpano, Adrian Madaschi, Jade North, David Tarka, Spase Dilevski
Josip Skoko (34) - Elder statesman of the midfield in Germany and the disappointment of not getting match time could tip him towards retirement. May look to Asian Cup as his swansong. Harry Kewell (31) - At 31 in 2010 he could well be in his prime as a footballer, but one wonders whether the injuries of the last few years have taken its toll on him and that he decides to call it quits on his international career at least for a year or two. Brett Emerton (31) - Outstanding World Cup and is keen to keep going with the national team. Mile Sterjovski (31) - One of the biggest surprises in Germany and has whet his appetite for 2010. Tim Cahill (30) - Is still only relatively new to the international scene and keeps improving as a player. Wants to keep going. Marco Bresciano (30) - Wants the majority of 2006 squad to stick together and one thinks he will want to make a bigger impression in 2010. Vince Grella (30) - Outstanding 2006 WC and by 2010 should be at the peak of his powers as a player. Jason Culina (30) - Another who is relatively new to international scene and set to be a major part of Socceroos over the next four years. Luke Wilkshire (29) - Made the most of his call-up with two appearances at 2006 WC and is keen for another crack in fours years time.
2010 hopefuls: Simon Colosimo, David Carney, Ahmed Elrich, Nick Carle, Neil Kilkenny, Stuart Musialik, Kristian Sarkies, Kaz Patafta, Nick Ward
Mark Viduka (34) - Gave every indication after the Italy game that his playing days with the Socceroos may be drawing to a close. John Aloisi (34) - Non-committal on his international future, but if Viduka does retire, may look at this as an opportunity to lead the line, after years of playing second fiddle. Injuries and where he plays, could have a lot to do with his decision. Archie Thompson (31) - Playing in the A-League, he will no doubt become an important player for the national team in the next year or so. No doubt the experience of 2006 will have him keen to be there again in 2010. Joshua Kennedy (27) - Came from nowhere to make 2006 squad and showed in two substitute appearances that he will become an integral part of future Australian teams.
2010 hopefuls: Alex Brosque, Joel Griffiths, Scott McDonald, Brett Holman