Harry Souttar is quickly becoming a Caltex Socceroos cult hero after his unforgettable start to life in the national side but, if it wasn’t for Australian goalkeeper Adam Federici, it might have never happened at all.
Federici and Souttar are both on the books of English Championship club Stoke City, becoming teammates in 2018 when the gloveman made the move from AFC Bournemouth.
While Souttar is currently on loan at League One outfit Fleetwood Town, the duo spent six months together with the Potters.
And that’s where the first moves were made for Scotland-born Souttar to play for Australia.
“Harry came up to me in pre-season and told me he’s Australian, I looked at him and thought ‘well I can tell by your accent, mate, it’s a really thick Australian accent’,” Federici joked during a live Q-and-A on the Caltex Socceroos’ Facebook page.
“He impressed me in training anyway, I thought he was a great prospect, so he asked if he could get a hook-up to the Australian team.
“I gave a text to the Caltex Socceroos Team Manager and he texted back and asked for some footage of him.
“Next thing he got picked for the Young Socceroos, which was fantastic to see.”
While Souttar and Federici spent half of the 2018/19 English season together at Stoke, they only featured in the same squad twice in two League Cup games against Huddersfield Town and Nottingham Forest.
“I had the pleasure of playing a few Cup games with him as well, so I know he’s quality,” Federici added.
“I think [the Australian scouts] came to watch those games for Stoke.
“I’m just glad they had a look... and I’m glad he got a gig here.”
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The pair are back together again in Amman as part of the Caltex Socceroos squad for the FIFA World Cup 2022™ qualifier against Jordan, which kicks off at 3am AEDT on Friday, 15 November.
Souttar is hoping to make his third straight start for Graham Arnold’s side after a dream debut in the previous international window last month.
The 21-year-old scored doubles in wins over both Nepal and Chinese Taipei to immediately announce himself to Caltex Socceroos fans.
Going from an unknown quantity to an Australian icon within a week was a lot to take in for the 198cm defender.
And scoring four goals in his first two international appearances had Caltex Socceroos supporters wondering how many Souttar can go on to net in Green and Gold.
“First of all, I don’t think Tim Cahill’s got anything to worry about,” Souttar joked.
“My height gets pointed out quite a lot, and set pieces is something I’m trying to improve in my game because I should be scoring a lot more goals than I do.
“It’s nice when you get a set piece and it’s all about the delivery for me.
“If the quality is there like you saw in the last two games it makes my job so much easier
“We’ve been working on a few things. They came off in the last couple of games so we’re hoping they continue.”
It could have been a different story for Souttar, who featured for Scotland’s U-17 and U-19 squads between 2014 and 2016, but was yet to make a senior appearance before Federici’s intervention turned him into a Caltex Socceroo.
And if that intervention had happened any earlier, the Caltex Socceroos’ bounty might have doubled.
Souttar’s brother John made his senior debut for Scotland in July, 2018, the month Federici arrived at Stoke.
“[John] was already capped before I spoke to [Federici] about it, so that conversation never really got going,” Souttar said.
“But I’m happy to be here, so he can stay with Scotland and I can stay with Australia.”
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Next Match – Caltex Socceroos – FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and AFC Asian Cup China 2023™ – Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2
Jordan v Australia
Date: Thursday, 14 November 2019
Venue: King Abdullah II Stadium, Amman, Jordan
Kick-off: 6.00pm (local); 3.00am AEDT – Friday, 15 November 2019
Broadcast: Live in Australia on FOX SPORTS, ABC TV, Kayo Sports, and via the My Football Live App, Live, Fast and Data Free for Telstra mobile customers