March 26th, a day that will be marked in the Australian sporting calendar as the day arguably our country’s greatest footballer, Harry Kewell, decided to call time on his illustrious career.
Tributes were made far and wide, sharing stories through social media; videos and articles. Expressions of gratitude to this mercurial talent from Sydney’s west, and the impact he’s made to the game in Australia.
We now sit almost 18 years to the day since he took his first steps into professional football, as he went onto the field against Middlesbrough on the 30th of March, 1996. One could say Australian football’s never been the same since.
‘H’ as he’s fondly known as would go on to show the type of technical ability often not associated with Australian players.
Forming a lethal partnership with the one and only, Mark Viduka, the Aussie pair struck fear in the hearts of English Premier League (EPL) defenders scoring 104 EPL goals at Leeds between them.
Harry would go on to become the tenth highest scoring midfielder in EPL history with 57 goals. The highlights and accolades are too many to mention for both club and country but we all have our favourite Kewell memories.
Perhaps his biggest impact though has been off the park and the way he inspired his peers and the generations of footballers that followed. Football Central was fortunate enough to catch up with some of those that have followed his career as fans, media, and teammates to garner their reactions to his retirement.
Ryan Edwards (Perth Glory & Reading FC)
Him and Cahill were my idols growing up, he’s a big inspiration to Australian football and to me.
Scoring the first penalty in the shootout against Uruguay, equalising against Croatia at the World Cup to take us to the next round, and I remember waking up in the early hours of the morning just to watch him in the Champions League for Liverpool and absolutely ripping teams apart. And that’s not even mentioning him at Leeds.
He was a joy to watch let alone be fortunate enough in my career to play against him.
Jamie Maclaren (Perth Glory FC)
An absolute idol of mine. He’s the Aussie who I looked up to being an attacker myself. It was an honour to be able to play against him.
George Mells (Southampton FC)
As a young footballer growing up in Australia, Harry was someone all of my friends aspired to be like one day. I must say my favourite memory of Harry is when he scored the goal against Croatia in the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He showed such class and composure.
Finding out that Harry is retiring is a sad day for me as he is a legend of the game, this is also an opportunity for me to say thank you, because he was one of my first idols and someone I looked up too.
Adam Taggart (Newcastle Jets)
He was an idol for me growing up so it’s quality to have played against him before he retired.
Oliver Bozanic (FC Luzern)
A true Australian legend of the game. I looked up to him as young footballer trying to reach my dream.
My favourite moments were his two goals against Iran, home and away (1998 World Cup qualification play-off).
Mat Ryan (Club Brugge)
Harry Kewell is the best footballer Australia has ever produced. He achieved almost everything you can in the modern game. He was the first name every Australian looked for when lining up for the national team, as we knew we would be treated to something special.
He created a legacy in which every young Australian footballer would dream of emulating.
Tommy Oar (FC Utrecht)
Congratulations to Harry Kewell on a fantastic career. He lead the way and inspired many young Australian footballers to try and follow in his footsteps.A great role model. I wish him all the best.
Erik Paartalu (Muangthong United)
Watching Harry play at such a young age for the national team it inspired many young players to want to play for Australia. I still have a Harry Kewell poster on my wall in Australia.
Dario Vidosic (FC Sion)
Sad news, I’m sure he inspired all kids to be footballers and was a idol of mine as well. Helped me and made me feel welcome when I first was involved in the national team. Gave me some great advice that I won’t ever forget.
A legend of the game but a true gentlemen off the field as well.
Ryan McGowan (Shandong Luneng Taishan FC)
A legend of the game. Any Aussie around my age involved with football will have Harry Kewell as their idol. Years of growing up watching him play for some of the biggest clubs in the world inspired me to become a football player. For me the greatest ever Aussie.
Vince Grella (Former Socceroo teammate)
Didn’t know he was retiring. It’s a shame but I think he still has a lot to offer Australian football even if it’s not on the pitch.
Adam Peacock (FOX Sports)
At his top, the best Australian player I’ve seen. Alas, his top wasn’t allowed to happen too often after his Leeds days due to injury but his class was world class on his day.
His legacy? Every quality kid that’s come through in the last 15 years has been compared to him “The next Harry Kewell?” Hopefully one day but his deeds are lasting.
Andrew Orsatti (FIFPro)
Harry Kewell inspired a generation of Australian footballers and sports fans alike. A sense of expectation followed his every touch of the ball – his electrifying speed and skill on the dribble at times irresistible.
He carried that weight with distinction, a quiet confidence to make a difference at the highest level, while fighting back time and again as chronic injuries threatened to derail his career. Kewell holds a special place as one of the finest footballers Australia has ever produced.
Ned Zelic (The World Game & former teammate)
He had the ability to keep control at high speed, and create something out of nothing. He created goals for teammates and scored spectacular goals as well.
Enjoyed playing with him at NT level and following his career progression to greater heights in world football.