Socceroos head coach Ange Postecoglou said today was significant as he announced Mile Jedinak as the national team captain for the upcoming World Cup.
With 43 international caps, Jedinak, becomes the Socceroos fourth World Cup skipper after replacing Lucas Neill. Peter Wilson (1974) and Mark Viduka (2006) have also led Australia at World Cups.
The 29 year old was seen to be in a ‘two horse race’ with Tim Cahill being the other candidate. What put Mile ahead in the eyes of Postecoglou was his current efforts as captain of English Premier League side Crystal Palace.
“All three are outstanding individuals who have given great service to their country, who through their own stories embody what this nation is about,” Postecoglou said.
“Mile was the outstanding choice as captain of this group. He’s had an unbelievable year….. in my mind he’s been one of Australia’s top 5 sportsman in the last 12 months with what he’s achieved.”
“He’s led from the front, he’s led a group of players and a team in the English Premier League that many had written off and a lot of those characteristics apply to us now when we get to Brazil.”
Postecoglou added: “When we face up to those challenges, Mile, Timmy, and Mark will lead from the front.”
The former Sydney United and Central Coast Mariners player has been brilliant this season for the Eagles, playing every minute of his side’s 37 matches.
He fell just short of playing every minute of the 2013/14 campaign after being substituted in the 58th minute of Palace’s last game with groin strain.
Heading into the final game of the season, the defensive midfielder led the league in intercepts (137) and tackles (131).
Jedinak was captain for the Socceroos last friendly in March against Ecuador which ended in a 4-3 loss.
On this occasion the newly announced Socceroo captains ‘touch and go’ to make the line up on Monday at ANZ Stadium against South Africa.
Jedinak was humble at today’s press conference, insisting it is not all about him as captain, but about what he, Cahill and Bresciano can achieve as leaders.
“To be amongst the group and to be alongside these gentlemen, helping me, we’ve all got our responsibilities,” the Palace captain said.
“It’s probably the biggest honour I’ll receive and I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
When asked about how he leads his club side and how that will translate to leading a national team, Jedinak’s answer was simple.
“I tend to lead by example, in what I say and what I do,” he said.
Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano were named as vice captains as well today, and are fully supportive of Postecoglou’s decision.
When asked if he was disappointed to be overlooked as captain, Cahill had no hesitation in giving his full support to Jedinak.
“Mile has our 100% backing, and you can’t be disappointed about playing in your third World Cup,” Cahill said.
“Mile is a true leader. What he has achieved at Crystal Palace is magnificent.
“All I care about is football, I love playing for my country, and to sit at this table is an honour and it’s a privilege,” he added.
Cahill understands the challenge that awaits the Socceroos in Brazil, but will ensure the young group will importantly focus on themselves.
“I think for us it’s all about what we do and our preparation is the most important thing, the intent, the attitude, professionalism from now on in,” former Everton midfielder said.
“We’re going to go there and make a good account of ourselves and also make a great impact on this whole competition.”