Kewell slams Australian player development

Harry Kewell has waded into the thorny issue of player development in Australia and believes the knowledge of the ‘Golden Generation’ should be better utilised.

Harry Kewell

Harry Kewell Source: Getty Images

Kewell is now coaching English club Crawley Town after hanging up his boots three years ago.

The former Australia international, widely regarded as one of the finest footballers the country has ever produced, has strong views on the national curriculum and the current lack of Australian players playing in the best leagues in the world.

Kewell, who joined Leeds United as a 15-year-old, said leaving Australia and trying to break into European football remains the best career path for development at the highest level.

“It’s a big thing at the moment, what’s happening in Australia,” he told The World Game.

“Australia really needs to take a good look at themselves. They had success obviously when we were playing, but how did we get there? How did we get success? Because we were playing in Europe.

“How did we get to Europe? We went over there and we fought for it. I think it’s too easy now for players to go ‘you know what, I’ll go back and go and play in the A-League’. I think you’ve got to come over here.

“If you want to be the best, you’ve got play with the best. It’s as simple as that, so you have to come to Europe. If you want to go somewhere else – that’s fine, I’ve got no problem with that.

“You’ve got people [in Australia] at clubs who have been at the highest level. But do they actually have a say in the game?

“Don’t forget we’re a different breed to every other country. We’re Australians. We’re raw, we just want a chance. Most of the time we’re underdogs.

“We just want to go out there and run and fight and do whatever we have to do to win, because we’re winners. But I think that’s stopped, it’s getting blocked. I, for the life of me, can’t understand [why].”

Kewell was part of the ‘Golden Generation’ that ended the Socceroos 32-year wait for another FIFA World Cup appearance under Guus Hiddink and reached the round of 16 at the 2006 tournament in Germany.

The former Leeds, Liverpool and Galatasaray striker said the experiences of that squad should be properly tapped into to help along the production line of future Australian stars.

“We’ve got some very high quality players that have moved out of Australia and still could be involved, but they don’t want to get them involved,” the 38-year-old said.

"Because they’re probably not going to like their curriculum. And their curriculum would be what got them there. Everyone’s all happy to have a go, if we do bad here, it’s about results and all that.

“But what got me overseas was hard work. Why would you say ‘Harry what did you do?’. Or Craig Moore, what did you do? Or Mark Viduka, what did you do? Or Schwarzer, what did you do?

“You’ve got Zeljko Kalac, you’ve got Kevin Muscat, John Aloisi, why don’t you ask players like that and go ‘what did you do?’. That’s ultimately where we come from, where we grew up, you’ve got all the areas there and then follow their way.

“We’re getting wrapped up in following other people’s curriculums. Hiddink came over and he was fantastic, but we have to play the Dutch way now. We’re Australian. And why did we do so well with Hiddink?

“Hiddink knew how to control us. He knew if I could get them organised at the back... He did not once tell us how to attack. He said that’s up to you [the team]. He said all I want you to do is defend this way.

“We needed a little bit of defensive work and that was it. I don’t understand – we have a different style of football to everyone else. Let’s just go back to the way we know how to play it.

“Whether we lose or win, it doesn’t matter. We’ll have a good go though. We’ll have a good crack.”

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4 min read
Published 2 August 2017 at 11:13pm
By John Davidson