Ahead of the start of the final phase of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Caltex Socceroos defender Milos Degenek admits it’s hard not to start dreaming of playing at the tournament in Russia.
Ange Postecoglou’s side have the chance to take the first significant steps on that journey when they take on Iraq in Perth on Thursday night.
That’s followed by a trick away clash against UAE in Abu Dhabi five days later.
“I’m not going to lie, I’ve had a bit of a thought about it,” Degenek told FFA TV in Caltex Socceroos camp in Perth.
“But I’m not someone who likes to look to far ahead. I like to take it a step at a time and I think if we do the right things that we’re told to do and express ourselves on the pitch I think we can do a really good job on the pitch.
“If we can win both of these games it would be a great start for us in the qualifiers. I’ve obviously had a thought about what it would be like to go to the World Cup in two years.
“When you’re little and you start playing football you dream about going to a World Cup but now I’m actually part of a World Cup qualifier and having a chance to contribute to qualifying for a World Cup, hopefully we do qualify.
“Then it’s up to me to play, be fit, stay healthy and then if I’m lucky enough to get selected in the next camps to keep contributing to the World Cup qualifiers, I will be very happy to be here.”
It’s been a meteoric rise to this point for the 1860 Munich defender.
Only called up for his first Caltex Socceroos camp for the friendly against England in May, Degenek has taken his opportunity with both hands.
He set up the goal in the 2-1 loss to England, before an injury to Matthew Spiranovic saw him play in both friendlies against Greece in Australia in June.
Reflecting on his first call-up to the national team, Degenek said: “The first call up I got for the camp in England I was really surprised but at that moment I was really proud. It was an emotional moment for me.
“It left a very good impression on me, it gave me the feeling that I was at home and it gave me the motivation to work harder and work more to keep coming back and being a part of the Socceroos, which for me is a big step in my career.
“I’m 22-years-old and being a part of the Socceroos is something unbelievable for me and now to be a part of the World Cup qualifiers is something very big.”