EXCLUSIVE: ‘How Ange changed my career’

On the eve of the Socceroos’ final friendly before meeting Chile, Aussie midfielder Matt McKay says he wouldn’t be a World Cup player if it wasn’t for his former Brisbane Roar mentor Ange Postecoglou.

The Socceroo coach’s revolution at Brisbane Roar from late 2009 to 2012 changed the face of football domestically, brought trophies galore to the Sunshine State side but also had a profound effect on one man in particular.

Matt McKay was a constant in the Roar midfield from season one of the Hyundai A-League but by his own admission had yet to scale any great heights.

He was a solid performer but maybe just going through the motions.

It wasn't until Postecoglou walked through the gates early in 2010 that McKay's life – and the trajectory of his career - changed for the better.

The 31-year-old turned into an elite player in the A-League under Postecoglou, and just four years later is in the Socceroos squad at his first World Cup.

In McKay's words, he owes a lot to his former club – now Socceroo – mentor.

"He (Postecoglou) changed my career. If he wasn't at Brisbane I probably wouldn't be where I am now," McKay told www.socceroos.com.au

"I was playing alright in the A-League before that but he certainly improved me game and took me to another level.

"Just the way he plays; the way he encourages and gives everyone confidence to play an attacking style of football which is my game.

"Player movement, passing it's been great for me.

"I think everyone will thrive off that in the national team.

“Especially with the young guys we have here if they can buy into his philosophy it will be great for the national team in the future."

But for McKay it's all about the present.

He has learned from experience not to dwell too much on things you can't control or hold on to any regrets.

Like in 2009 when he took a punt to go on loan to Chinese club Changchun Yatai to try and convince Pim Verbeek he could play a role in the World Cup squad in South Africa.

History will show it was a punt that didn't come off with McKay missing out on a spot at the 2010 tournament.

"I probably wasn't really that close. I went on loan that season to keep fit just in case but that was probably more in hope than anything," McKay explained.

"Once the World Cup finished I really came into reckoning once Holger [Osieck] came in and the Asian Cup was my first tournament.

"I had had a few caps [under Verbeek] before that World Cup but the majority of those were in A-League based squads. In truth, I was more hoping to go than expecting to go and I didn't.

"I needed to improve my game and I feel I've done that now and deserve this opportunity."

It's hard to argue with that.

For Postecoglou, McKay is a trusted, versatile and dependable member of his squad and every time he takes the field you know what you are going to get.

While he knows performing in the 'shop window' of a World Cup may again open doors for him abroad, McKay seems happy to remain with the Roar, the place his career really took full flight.

"I'm glad I did give [overseas football] a shot and I went to three different clubs and learned a bit there," McKay said.

"But to be honest I'm happy in the A-League. I've come back to Australia and feel I can help the younger players with their decisions and stuff like that.

"I've got a good contract there [at Brisbane] and we're winning titles as well which is important.

"I want to keep winning things and Brisbane have delivered in the first season and hopefully will be more to come.”

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