Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has challenged the next Harry Kewell to stand up.
The Socceroos legend and former English Premier League star on Wednesday announced he’ll retire at the end of this A-League season, calling time on one of Australian football’s most distinguished careers.
Postecoglou paid tribute to the Melbourne Heart striker and noted the 35-year-old created a massive buzz in Australia.
The coach, who will be taking a relatively young squad to this year’s World Cup in Brazil, said now was the time for the next Kewell to emerge.
“I don’t think it was just how good he was – I think he was exciting and we haven’t had many exciting players,” Postecoglou said on Wednesday.
“Particularly in those early days, every time he got the ball you just sensed something special could happen.
“The fact that we keep talking about the next Harry Kewell just shows the impact he’s had on Australian football.
“That’s the opportunity that exists right now.
“So it’s up to the individual players now to build up their careers to try and surpass the feats of the past but it’s not an easy thing to do because he’s left a massive legacy.”
Being a Liverpool supporter Postecoglou’s fondest memories are of Kewell’s time with the English giant.
Postecoglou took the helm at Victory after Kewell had left the club but said he would have loved to work with him.
He wouldn’t be drawn on whether Kewell had called him to tell him of his impending retirement before making the announcement.
“When a player calls time on his career I think he should be afforded the respect to do it in his way, I’m certainly going to do that,” Postecoglou said.
Kewell’s former Socceroos teammate Craig Moore called him a “fantastic ambassador for our game”.
Moore recalled the hype that surrounded Kewell as a 17-year-old when he signed for English club Leeds.
He counts Kewell’s first international goal away to Iran during the Socceroos’ `98 World Cup qualifying campaign, which silenced a crowd of over 100,000, and the goal he scored against Croatia at the 2006 World Cup, which secured Australia’s berth into the second round, as highlights.
But Moore said while Kewell will be remembered most for his feats as a striker, left wing was where he really impressed.
“I know he thought eventually that he was a striker but for me his best days, when he was hot, was wide on the left,” Moore said.
“He had a little bit of cheek about him, he had the back heels, he had the flicks and was just very exciting.”