Kewell: Why I was the missing puzzle piece against Italy

Harry Kewell believes he may have been the missing piece of the puzzle when Australia fell painfully short to Italy at the 2006 World Cup.

After securing the Socceroos’ passage to the knockout stages with a famous late equaliser against Croatia four days earlier, the cruel onset of a toe infection left Kewell watching on from the sidelines as a late Francesco Totti penalty sent the Azzurri to the quarter finals.

The former Leeds and Liverpool maestro still wonders whether he could have provided the attacking spark Australia needed.   

“I think in that game the only thing we lacked was someone like me where we actually broke through the final third,” Kewell told the FFA Podcast.

“I felt three quarters of the pitch we were comfortable, we dominated, it was just the final third where we just weren’t creating enough chances to put them under pressure.

“I so wish now that I was playing in that game, even if I only played 45 minutes or half an hour.”

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Kewell also believes Totti’s stoppage-time spot kick that night in Kaiserslautern may well have cost Australia a berth in the final four.

“Was it a penalty? I’ve seen them given, I’ve seen them not given,” he said.

“We knew it was going to be difficult but at any given moment that was the time to take Italy down because they went down to ten men.

“I think then we would have played Ukraine and we would have had a decent chance to get into a semi-final which would have been mind-boggling.”

WATCH BELOW: Kewell reflects on goal against Croatia

But instead it was Italy who went on to defeat Ukraine, Germany and France on their path to becoming World Champions.

Watching on, Kewell noticed just how close Australia were to shocking their star-studded opposition.

“I know they were scared because Totti blasted the ball,” he said.

“When you blast the ball it means that you hit it as hard as you can and just hope that the keeper doesn’t go the right way.”

Watch Football Stories: Harry Kewell in the video player below!


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