When it comes to the Socceroos there would be few people who are as big a fan or have seen as many games all around the world as Andre Kruger.
Kruger, who was born – and still lives – in Hannover, Germany is a Socceroos tragic whose love-affair with Australia’s national team dates way back to 1973.
He witnessed the Socceroos first World Cup experience the following year in his home nation and was there again 32 years later when Australia returned to the world stage, again in his home country.
In between and ever since he’s continued to follow the Socceroos all over Europe and the world to fulfil his passion for the Green and Gold.
Underlining his love for the Socceroos Kruger – also an historian of the national team – says he has over 30,000 photos and "boxes and boxes" of Socceroos memorabilia he’s amassed over the years.
It’s why there was no way he was going to miss the Socceroos date with destiny in the Asian Cup, flying out to Australia to watch first hand as Australia swept to the title.
He made it Down Under in time for the semi-final win over the UAE in Newcastle and there was no prouder man among the almost 77,000 fans in Sydney when Australia beat Korea Republic 2-1 last Saturday night.
“It was fantastic, just an unbelievable moment,” Kruger told www.socceroos.com.au before he was due to fly back to Germany on Friday.
“I’ve followed Australia since 1973 and of course the 1974 World Cup is still very deep in my heart. The 2005 qualification and the first World Cup game against Japan, I compare this with this final because the crowd was fantastic and everything was well.
“For me, every game is something special. I saw so many games watching Australia, travelling around to France, England, Denmark to see them play and it’s always wonderful.
“This time I have to say they played very well, it’s a young team, they have enough spirit inside and it’s a good one.”
Given his extensive knowledge of the Socceroos, there a few people better credentialed to give their opinion on the current crop as Kruger.
And he likes what he has seen of Ange Postecoglou’s side since he took over in late 2013.
“For me it’s a modern football and the system looks good,” Kruger said.
“Of course they are young and have to learn a bit more. Korea could have won as well but they played as a team and I love this. It’s better than having a few superstars in the side.
“Look at Germany, they have a real team and play a modern fast football and this is very good. You have to build a team not just on getting results.
“I know you have expectations and you have to win in places like Oman and Bahrain where it’s very difficult in the heat but they will try and play attractive football and put pressure on the opponent.
“I think the coach Ange Postecoglou is doing things the right way. This is good and I think you have to give him time…there’s more to come.”
Next stop for the Socceroos is a clash with World Champions Germany in March and Kruger already has his ticket to the match in Kaiserslautern, the scene of Australia’s epic 3-1 win over Japan at the 2006 World Cup.
“There’s still a hype in Germany because they won the World Cup and now Australia is coming as the Asian Cup winner so this is going to be a great game,” Kruger said.
“It’s back in Kaiserslautern nearly 10 years since the World Cup games there so it’s fantastic. Before the Asia Cup I thought ‘oh no, I hope they don’t go down too bad’ but now I’ve seen them play and the German’s at the moment are not so much in the mood after they won the biggest thing (World Cup).
“I hope that Australia will win because even though I’m German, my heart beats Australian.”