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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
The youngest-ever player to debut for the national team -- at the age of 17 years and seven months -- Harry Kewell has had an almost 15-year career in international football at some of the most famous clubs in Britain and Europe. e Socceroos recent success is no surprise to Kewell. He understands the strong Australian sporting tradition, which springs from the culture, and which has delivered so much success in other codes. He believes it was only a ma er of time before it translated to football. "As far as other sports go we kind of kick everyone's arse," he says, with a laugh. "We are always outside as kids and sport is bred into us at a young age, we are a nation that loves its sport and we are passionate about it. We are very dominant in sport not only in our own country because we know that if we are not good enough there are another 100 people trying to beat us so we are always trying to perform at the highest level." While he has made his mark on the world with his footballing skills, Kewell is much more than a sportsman. He is an ambassador for the Australian Government's youth targeted Healthy Active initiative, is an investor in Australian and global real estate, and is the global face of Australian fashion brand Politix. He is a world citizen who also happens to be an Australian, and proud of it. Kewell enjoys the reaction he get as an Australian abroad, particularly in his current role as a player with top Turkish club Galatasaray, where he is known as the "Wizard of Oz." "When you say the word 'Australian' you are accepted around the world, we are a very accepting culture ourselves and we are welcomed everywhere," says Kewell. "It's very multicultural in Australia now, so that means that everywhere you go Australia is well known. I feel I've got a helping hand wherever I go just because I'm Australian. "People are really interested in the country. You always hear them say: 'I'd love to go to Australia' so the country has a really positive image all around the world." Kewell can't wait to pull on a Socceroo shirt at the World Cup in South Africa in June, at Australia's rst xture against Germany. "Playing for your country is a pride thing," says Kewell, who has also worn the captain's armband for the Socceroos. "When you put on that jersey you are not only playing for your fans you are playing for your whole country, and that's a great feeling." Winning respectability in the highly competitive world of international soccer has been a tough road for Australia's Socceroos, and Kewell has been instrumental in the team's recent success. "We were classed as a pub team when we started out, we just weren't taken seriously," says Kewell, remembering the team's lowly status when he began his international career. "We were just a bunch of guys from the Southern Hemisphere trying to play the European game and a lot of people didn't realise at that time that a lot of our players were playing in Europe. ey were with some of the greatest clubs and it was a pleasure to play with them and we started to put some good results together." e 31-year-old has experienced all the highs and lows in the Socceroos' quest for respect over the years. He was there when the team narrowly missed out in the 1997 quali ers, and then again in 2002 when they experienced the heartbreak of last-minute defeat when victory seemed assured. He, and Australian football, had their reward at the last World Cup when the team acqui ed themselves well, and received the plaudits of the footballing world. "Now we are recognised as a reasonable force in world football," says Kewell. "Where you make your mark on football is the World Cup. Obviously this one is going to be a lot more di cult, with the draw we've got, but people are a lot more wary of us now because they know what we can do as a team." We are a very accepting culture ourselves and we are welcomed everywhere. HARRY KEWELL HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS AUSTRALIA'S FINEST FOOTBALLING EXPORT. BY LACHL AN COLQUHOUN subject: harry kewell 87 Danielle Smith/Fairfax Photos ciTizen plays the world game