Jedinak's whirlwind ride

Two years ago Mile Jedinak probably didn’t know where his football career was heading.

FFA Exclusive Feature

Two years ago Mile Jedinak probably didn-t know where his football career was heading. Having returned from overseas where things didn-t work out in Croatia, he went back to playing in the State League with his junior club Sydney United.

However the two years since, have been a whirlwind for the quietly spoken Central Coast Mariners midfielder, who has risen from the State League, to being a fully fledged national team player and on the verge of playing a role in the upcoming AFC World Cup qualifiers during June.

Jedinak is one of the local-based players to get a call up by Pim Verbeek for the friendly match against Ghana on Friday night at the Sydney Football Stadium and another good showing in the green and gold, will push his claim for inclusion during the World Cup qualifiers.

“It-s indescribable,” Jedinak says of the past 18 months to two years. “You-ve got to pinch yourself sometimes.

“I came from playing in the State League and winning the State League Championship with my team Sydney United; from there going on to play with the Mariners on a part-time, or more of a fill-in basis and then finally last year getting that full-time gig with Mariners and having the season that I did, which I was happy with. Then to top it off getting the call into the national team and playing the game (against Singapore).

“I can-t really describe how it feels, because it-s unbelievable.”

Unbelievable at Mile might describe it, ask many good judges and they will tell you he has fully deserved it, on the back of his displays for the Mariners, helping the team to the Hyundai A-League 2008 Premiership and a place in this years Grand Final, which they lost 1-0 to rivals Newcastle Jets.

The disappointment of losing to the Jets was tempered though by inclusion in the predominantly locally-based squad for the Singapore friendly that played just prior to the World Cup qualifier against China in March.

But such was the job that Jedinak did in the terrible conditions, Verbeek asked Mile to continue onto Kunming for the squad for the qualifier, which has whet his appetite for more games with the Socceroos.

“It was funny actually,” Jedinak says of the time that Pim asked him to come onto China with the squad. “He came and spoke to me after the game and just mentioned that he was happy with the way I performed and that he wanted me to go to China.

“I was just happy to play whatever part it was. It was a good result over there and I am team are hoping to build on that.

Just like all the Socceroos before him, Jedinak realised a dream against Singapore and excited by the prospect of being back in camp.

“Obviously like any young kid growing up and following, living and breathing soccer; just wanting to play for Australia and to finally do it against Singapore was great.

“I loved every minute of it; I just tried to enjoy it and I did.

“Yes, most definitely,” he says, when asked if he excited about being back with the squad. “I was on holiday in Thailand, when I got the phone call, to go on the Townsville trip with the Olyroos (Qantas Under 23-s) and that I might be considered for this upcoming month. That was an exciting time for me.

“Now that we have finally come to it, it-s good to be here.”

For the local-based players the challenge is now to get themselves to a fitness level that will match that of the boys that have just finished playing in Europe.

“We got back to training on the Monday (three weeks ago) with the Mariners and flew out for Townsville on the Thursday and once we went up there, it was pretty much non-stop; twice a day, everyday for a week. After that I felt quite good and I did feel a lot stronger; a lot fitter by the end of it, which was the whole idea behind it, so it worked out well.

There is no doubt Jedinak-s confidence is sky high at the moment and there is every chance he will start against Ghana on Friday. His ability to win the ball in midfield and quickly turn defence into attack, from start to finish will be needed against the crafty Ghanaians, and if he gets on the park, Pim knows he will get 100% effort.

But as one of the new boys on the block, Jedinak is happy to play whatever part he can and doing everything at training to make sure he is in the frame.

“First of all to be considered is one thing, but once you are here, you-ve got to impress; do your job and do as asked and hopefully whatever part I can play, I will be happy with that.”