A significant football moment occurred in the west of Sydney last Saturday afternoon and the timing couldn’t have been better. Harry Kewell made his first ever appearance in an Australian league game in an area of the world that he spent his childhood. The significance of the moment didn’t end there, it was also the much anticipated return to action for his club Melbourne Heart. However, for this writer, the moment has further importance, it extends to every corner of this country. In the wake of the World Cup draw and with only six months until the party starts, Harry returning to the park paves a way for a return to the Socceroos. A playing and fit Harry Kewell is a must to be included on that flight to Brazil.
Melbourne Heart, in desperate need of inspiration, traveled to the fortress that Western Sydney Wanderers have created. A site formally named ‘Pirtek Stadium’ but in the football world, known simply as ‘Wanderland’.
With scores locked at one-one and 20 minutes remaining, Heart were just holding on. Western Sydney were parked at the away team’s end and the sense of the inevitable winner was in the air. Enter Harry Kewell, and the game changed. Suddenly his team mates had energy like they had received a shot of HK10-Pure Football. That is what Harry Kewell is, pure football.
You can have systems, technical guidelines even a whole curriculum but sometimes you just need a footballer. Someone who doesn’t need a whiteboard to make a difference, just the football at his feet. Sydney FC has one, a couple of sides in Spain have one too. Melbourne Heart has one and so does Australia.
As Harry dropped deep to pick up the ball, he attracted attention from the Wanderers, he almost summoned them and in doing so the space was created. Kewell played first time passes, flick passes with the outside of his boot – finding Heart players with room to make an impact on the game. Now Heart had the advantage and looked good to take all three points. Just like that. The momentum had switched and now the Wanderers had to re-adjust, they had lost control. Such is the aura that is Harry Kewell.
Now the likes of Spain, Netherlands and Chile are on another level to that of the Wanderers, worlds apart. However they are still just men, suspect to mental and emotional influence and I am willing to bet all understand the player that Harry Kewell is. There is not another player available for Australia that is anywhere near that of the player named as a our greatest ever Socceroo.
We have many talented players available to utilise next June. Some experienced veterans to guide our up-coming talents through the experience that is a World Cup, however none of them have the game changing ability of Harry.
It is that reason that Harry needs to be there in Brazil 2014 if he stays fit and on the pitch.
Let me temper this here by clarifying that playing 90 minutes each match is not the suggestion here. More that impact player, to come on and swing a match in favour of the green and gold. If Ange Postecoglou can keep his side in the match playing to our strengths and put these nations under pressure. Then with the game in the balance the image of Harry warming up on the sideline and taking his position beside the fourth official will not only inspire but also cause adjustments from the opposition. Opposition defences will know a whole new level of attacking threat is about to be unleashed. Containing the threat of Kewell will open up the match for our other talented players giving them the space to utilise their own abilities.
Of course Harry polarises opinion across Australia, from both fans and pundits alike. This opinion is usually centered around personality and health issues and almost never about the player’s ability and gift he has with the football. When given the opportunity and free from injury, Harry has always delivered on the park wherever he has played often causing many of the doubters to eat their words.
For this writer that is why, there’s only one Harry Kewell.