Ivan Franjic says he’s still coming to terms with his rise from part-time footballer to selection in the Socceroos’ 30-man squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
The Brisbane Roar wingback heads into camp with the national team tomorrow (Thurs) in Gosford on a high after his selection.
It’s all a long way from part-time football and getting up at 5am to pay the bills, in his case carpentry, in Melbourne six years ago.
Franjic, now 26, got his Hyundai A-League opportunity as a six-week injury replacement player for Andy Packer as a 20-year-old. And he’s been there ever since, helping Brisbane to A-League championships and premierships.
Now the hard work has finally paid off – though Franjic admits he doubted it’d ever happen for him.
“Even when I played VPL I made little sacrifices to make sure I trained on my own or not go out with mates, just so maybe one day I’d get the opportunity,” he told www.socceroos.com.au on Wednesday.
“Obviously Brisbane came and I promised myself if I got a full-time contract I’d make sure my career goes up, up, up.
“And if it didn’t I’d be back in VPL and doing the carpentry side getting up at 5am each morning.
“The older you get the more you get to doubt yourself as opportunities go by, so I’m very grateful I got this opportunity.
“And to be honest, my family’s more excited than me right now seeing what a long way I’ve come in my career."
There have been no guarantees about selection but the tigerish Victorian suits perfectly the Postecoglou blueprint. The Socceroo boss loves attacking players who are young enough to play in the 2018 World and have a hunger to succeed.
What's more, since winning the Hyundai A-League grand final on May 4 against Wanderers, Franjic and fellow Roar and Socceroo teammate Matt McKay have had a little help from a German star as they prepare for pre-World Cup camps.
“Celebrations were short-lived then me, Matty [McKay] and a couple of boys like Thomas Broich came in, which was very nice of him to help us train," said Franjic.
“He’s a great guy and to have a quality player like that to have around really helped. Thomas wants us to do well if we get a chance at the World Cup.
“He did what he could to make sure we were ready for this training camp.”
After the Socceroo friendly with South Africa in Sydney on May 26 the squad is trimmed to 27. The final 23 will be named on June 2 in Brazil.
“You have to perform well in the training camp. Obviously there are 23 spots up for grabs and you have to make sure you do well. But I’m so close to making that dream a reality.”
Franjic added that the injury he received in recent weeks has proved a blessing in disguise as he braces for a brutal boot camp on the Central Coast.
“It’s given me a break and I feel fresh. This is probably the best condition my body’s been in, in a long time. So I’ll be ready to go.
“If I’m selected in the final squad, I’ll be so excited I won’t be able to speak.”
The final chance to see the Socceroos on home soil before they head to Brazil 2014 will be when they take on South Africa in a farewell game on May 26 in Sydney. Tickets for the match, presented by NAB, are on sale now. Click here to secure yours today.