Leckie thrives off 'extra buzz' from captaining country against Kuwait
In a new look Socceroos set-up, Matthew Leckie was delighted to be handed the captains armband as his nation cruised to a 3-0 victory over Kuwait in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
After 567 days without kicking a ball, it took the Socceroos and Leckie just 55 seconds to find the net and spark Australia’s return to FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
The new Melbourne City man popped up at the back post to head home Martin Boyle’s cross from close range.
Leckie previously wore the captain's armband back in 2019 when the Socceroos last played Kuwait in FIFA World Cup Qualifying and he reiterated just how special it is.
"It’s obviously an honour and I am very fortunate to be able to do that (captain the team)," Leckie said.
"When you have the captains armband and you lead the players out, it gives you that extra buzz."
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The 30-year-old, who is now one of the elder statesmen in Socceroos squad, has more international caps (64) than anyone else called up to camp.
It was also a day that trio Fran Karacic, Kenny Dougall and Riley McGree would never forget, as they became Socceroos #607, #608 and #609 respectively.
Leckie debuted back in 2012 in an international friendly against the Republic of Korea and he knows well how much it would have meant for Karacic, Dougall and McGree.
"Obviously it's been a while now since I had my debut but I remember it was a special moment and I'm sure it was for these boys as well," he explained.
"I think although we were away for so long with the COVID break, Arnie has worked hard to get some depth with the young boys from the Olyroos.
"He said to me that he has a lot more players to choose from and it's only going to help us."
The result takes the Socceroos five points clear at the top of Group B of the AFC second stage qualifiers, with three more matches in the coming fortnight.
While Australia are on the verge of securing passage through to the next phase of qualifying, Leckie hopes there is more to come from his side.
"I think we definitely have much more in us to give," he explained.
"Although I think we did really well, we haven't been together for a year and a half so it can only get better.
"There were patterns and moments where we were really good. There were obviously also a few things that we need to fix up but hopefully we can continue on the right path."
Leckie could be in action next for the Socceroos on Tuesday 8 June at 5am AEST when Australia takes on Chinese Taipei in the second of four June FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers.