It’s a statement that reverberates around my mind every time I try and come to terms with it. It’s almost unfathomable. I don’t want it to be true. But all the evidence points towards the fact that Harry Kewell has kicked has last competitive football for Australia.
Another transfer window has passed by, and in the midst of all the clubs around the globe shuffling their packs – looking for value where possible – there once again seems to be no room for our boy Harry. Australia’s greatest ever player – as voted by fans, players and pundits – has not been seen in an official match since the FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against Oman nearly eight months ago. That is a pretty damning statistic for a 34-year-old with a poor injury record.
Indeed, it is unlikely that Kewell will ever play professional football again, let alone add to his 58 caps. If Rio 2014 is his ultimate goal, that gives Harry roughly 12 months of football to prove himself before the 23-man squad is finalised in May next year. This means that every single day that this 8 month hiatus continues is another nail in the coffin of what has been a tumultuous career.
When quizzed on Kewell’s situation last week, Socceroos boss Holger Osieck seemed largely in the dark – “No, I haven’t talked to him recently. I am not the person to ask (about his future). You have to talk with Harry and I am not sure what his plans are right now.”
“It’s strange that a player of his quality is now without a club. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenery…”.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement from the national team manager.
Family reasons aside, you can be sure that there will be a part of Kewell that rues leaving the Melbourne Victory at the end of last season. Blind Freddy could see how beautifully Harry could have fit into Ange Postecoglou’s set-up. Similarly, the offer that Tony Sage extended to Harry to join Perth Glory in November must now look like a rosy proposition compared to how bleak his career prospects are now.
Football fans around Australia never got to properly say goodbye to Mark Viduka – after Newcastle released him from his contract at the end of the 08-09 season, speculation persisted for months over where Viduka may have ended up next. Instead of being picked up by another team, the speculation slowly dimmed and Viduka slipped from being a professional footballer and into retirement (probably exactly how the media-shy Viduka would have liked it). Here is hoping that Harry Kewell has not exited the stage in the exact same manner.