Irvine has no regrets over turning down $160,000-a-week Chinese deal

Breakthrough Socceroos midfielder Jackson Irvine has revealed he has no regrets over turning down $160,000-a-week in China as he enters "a crazy" month for his country.

Jackson Irvine

Jackson Irvine celebrates scoring for Burton Albion Source: Getty Images

The Burton Albion dynamo was targeted by a Chinese Super League club in January with the stupendous offer.

But the pony-tailed powerhouse, as articulate off the field as he is adept on it, proved he is motivated by far more than money by opting to remain in England to pursue his Premier League dream.

Irvine started in Australia's last two World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and UAE, distinguishing himself in both whilst also scoring against the United Arab Emirates in a 2-0 win in Sydney.

His 10 goals in 42 appearances for Championship newcomers Burton were crucial in them avoiding a quick return to English football's third tier.

The form of the Brewers' player of the season didnt go unnoticed, with Irvine saying of the Chinese approach: "There was that offer, but you address situations as they come and make decisions you feel are best for your career.

"It was a situation I didn't feel was suited to the path I wanted to take at the time.

"I felt it was right to stay ... they were doing something great at Burton and I wanted to see that through to the end. 

"I have never said a bad word about guys that are going to pay in China for the money that's there because I fully understand why you would make those decisions.

"But for me personally it just wasn't the right move to make."

Though competition for Socceroos starting spots is intense, Irvine has propelled himself up the queue in the eyes of the public, and more importantly coach Ange Postecoglou.

The 24 year old is a serious contender for more significant game in Postecoglou's attack-minded 3-2-4-1 formation for next Thursday's crucial Worjd Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia in Adelaide.

He flourished in the absence of Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy - who was injured ahead of the UAE game - and their returns provides Postecoglou with a smorgasbord of options.

The coach will have plenty of time to tinker with the friendly against Brazil and the Confederations Cup also looming this month.

Irvine sees the duel with the Saudis, who must be beaten for Australia to keep alive hopes of automatic qualification for Russia 2018, as the game that dominates the calendar.

"It's a massive one for us and I'm desperate to be a part of it in anyway I can," said the nine-cap Irvine.

"There is so much at stake and it's going to be a real test. 

"They've come on leaps and bounds as you can see with their form in the group (the Saudis lead third placed Australia by three points) but we are still unbeaten, and a lot of people forget that. 

"If we get our best players performing at the top level it should be good enough to get the job done.

"It's a great opportunity to make a bit of a statement, to quieten a few people down and prove a point," added Irvine, referring to those who have doubted Australia during a testing campaign to reach Russia.

"In saying that, the criticism doesn't affect us in any way.

"We understand the way the world works and it's also a compliment to the expectations now resting on the national team."

Though the Premier League is Irvine's ultimate goal, he is not agitating for a Burton exit.

"I have two years left at Burton and if anything realistic happens then you address that as it comes," said Irvine, who was given the responsibility of captaining the club at times last season.

"But I'm very happy where I am and we had a great season. 

"It was history making for Burton and hopefully we can go on and do the same again next year and keep the club at this level. 

"It was a monumental achievement to stay up and if we can do it for a second year it would be even bigger."

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4 min read
Published 2 June 2017 at 10:36am
By Dave Lewis