Callum Elder's ‘unbelievable’ journey to Socceroos debut
After a decade-long journey since leaving home as a 16-year-old, which saw him bouncing around the English football leagues, Callum Elder fulfilled a lifelong dream as he became Socceroo #614 against China.
The 26-year-old made his international debut for the Socceroos as Australia cruised to a 3-0 victory over China on Friday.
It was a special moment for Elder, who had been waiting a long time for his first call-up to the senior squad.
The Hull City left-back was in line for a call-up for the June qualifiers but was cruelly robbed of his opportunity by an injury picked up on the final day of last season.
Elder previously represented the Green and Gold at Young Socceroos level, having made a single appearance in 2013 in an AFC U19 Championship qualifying match.
Since then, Elder had been chasing his dream throughout England’s various leagues, but now his international dream has become a reality.
Reflecting on what his debut meant to his family, Elder said, "Everyone would be over the moon.
“I know everyone would have been watching back home including my good friends, my whole family and even my colleagues back in England so I'm really pleased for them.
It's been a long journey, my family have had to watch me move to England at 16 so I know they'll be really proud back home.
“It was an unbelievable moment. I was so delighted when the manager called me over to come on.”
Elder replaced Aziz Behich at left-back with ten minutes to go as the Socceroos ensured they recommenced their qualification campaign with a ninth straight victory.
Speaking post-game, the Manly United junior revealed what was going through his head when Graham Arnold told him he was being introduced.
“There's a lot of emotions going through your head and you're thinking what you're going to do when you come on,” Elder explained.
“You've also got to be wary of the state of the game, we were three-nil up but we wanted to continue controlling it.
“In the same respect, you want to try and show what you can do so I'm just so pleased to have got on and made my debut.
I think it was a great performance tonight from the boys.
"We sustained an early spell of pressure from them but we took a real foothold in the game so we're really delighted with the performance and the three good goals to come with it.”
Despite having an Irish mum, a Scottish dad and living in England since the age of 16, Elder always wanted to represent Australia.
While he was eligible to represent Australia, England or Scotland, there was only one decision he was ever going to make, and he revealed just how welcoming the squad has been since his arrival.
“It's been unbelievable,” he said.
“From the minute I got off the plane, they are such a strong group of lads and the standards are high every day on and off the pitch.
“We're all driving forward to achieve the success of next year at the World Cup so I'm so pleased to be a part of that and I'm looking forward to what's to come.”