Grella: 'There are makings of us doing something special'
Vince Grella always had a keen ability to read the play.
It was, as a defensive midfielder, a skill that earned him a job marking Zinedine Zidane on his Empoli debut, a 10-year Serie A career, and an integral role as the rudder for Australia's thrilling ride at the 2006 FIFA World Cup™.
So when the 46-time Caltex Socceroo envisions promising performances from the current crop, there's reason to be encouraged.
Grella, now five years retired from a distinguished playing career, is quick to advise against "unfair" comparisons to the Golden Generation of his era.
But that shouldn't keep supporters from believing a memorable showing is well within reach.
"The current team has quality and they're coming off the back of some pretty high expectations," Grella told socceroos.com.au.
"So every little stumble, people are making stronger comparisons.
"The team now has everything needed to have success – players playing at a good level, we have an experienced coach, a wise coach and I think there are the makings of doing something special."
Several of the modern day hopefuls - the likes of Mathew Leckie, Tomi Juric and Matthew Jurman - have spoken of confidence being bred throughout the camp in the wake of the 4-0 friendly win over the Czech Republic.
Grella knows the feeling.
He was at the centre of a battle-hardened group in Germany that knew they were ready to maximise the nation's first FIFA World Cup™ in 32 years.
"Going into the games, we always had a positive feeling within the squad and we had a big international coach who came in with experience and gave us that confidence that we could do it," the former Parma and Torino player said.
"That was a highlight of my career. A highlight during the tournament was going through to the next round, which everyone thought was impossible.
"If you ask all of the players, everyone thought we could do it.
"We were a confident group, we knew we had strong players and it was fantastic to be a part of."
Tracing that path and becoming the second Australian side to reach the knockout rounds is the unashamed target of Bert van Marwijk and his troops.
Grella is living proof the long, hot training days in Turkey will be well worth the temporary pain that makes unforgettable experiences of a successful campaign possible.
"We worked so hard together. The preparation for the World Cup was very difficult," he remembered.
"That satisfaction, that all of the work had paid off when we were up against the big boys, was all we ever wanted."
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