37 days to go: Vince Grella's FIFA World Cup story

Russia 2018 is fast approaching and as part of our countdown to the tournament, we are profiling every Australian player who's been to a FIFA World Cup.

Next on the list is long-serving midfielder Vince Grella, a favourite of Guus Hiddink's and a rock of the Germany 2006 squad.

READ: FIFA World Cup: Countdown for the Caltex Socceroos

Cap number: 473

World Cups played at: 2006, 2010

Position: Midfielder

Age at World Cup: 26 in 2006, 30 in 2010 (now aged 38)

Clubs played for:

Springvale City, Canberra Cosmos, Carlton, Empoli, Ternana (loan), Parma, Torino, Blackburn Rovers, Melbourne Heart

Best World Cup moment:

Grella was at his most influential in 2006, starting all four matches as Australia reached the Round of 16 for the first time.

In a twist of fate, it was at that stage that he was pitted against the nation of his heritage - Italy - and so many of the players he faced on a regular basis in Serie A.

Though the eventual champions advanced, Grella acquitted himself as well as he had done all tournament.

Indeed, his defensive midfield jobs on the likes of Brazil superstars Kaka and Ronaldinho earned the hardman a place in the preliminary pool of players considered for the All-Star Team.

Vince Grella Kaka
Grella has described Kaka as the finest player he faced during his career.

Career highlight:

Grella was handed the captain's armband at Parma after returning from the 2006 FIFA World Cup and fondly recalled the honour as providing the basis for one of his proudest moments.

It came when he led the Gialloblu against AC Milan at San Siro for the first time, lining up opposite the legendary Paolo Maldini and the players who might have been team-mates had a mooted move to the Rossoneri in 2003 transpired.

Vince Grella
Grella meeting FIFA World Cup foe Alberto Gilardino at San Siro.

Post-playing career:

Grella has settled in Italy after finishing his playing career and lives with his family in Florence.

He is now a prominent player agent, representing young Aussies like Daniel Arzani and Daniel De Silva, while he was also instrumental in Massimo Maccarone's move to Brisbane Roar.

Did you know?

Grella was known for bringing his own Parmesan cheese and prosciutto into Caltex Socceroos camp to complement the pasta dishes players were served during periods of carbo-loading.