One Year On | FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Harry Souttar’s unforgettable tournament

‘It was the best experience of my life’ – Harry Souttar on the 2022 World Cup

Australia’s 2022 FIFA World Cup campaign was special, no doubt, and for one Socceroo centre back, it was the best experience of his life.


Harry Souttar enjoyed a stellar World Cup playing on the right side of the centre of defence in every game for Australia.

But it could have been vastly different as the now Leicester City defender was recovering from a cruciate ligament tear and at a time, was potentially going to miss the tournament.

“I think my first kind of thought as soon as I got injured was I need to get fit for the World Cup,” Souttar said.

“Obviously, I had a year, so in my head, I'm like, okay, I can get there. As the months went on, I thought, I'm still not back yet, this is maybe getting a bit close.”

Harry Souttar after injuring his ACL against Saudi Arabia in a World Cup qualifier in 2021


Souttar would miss the World Cup qualification playoff matches in June 2022, due to another setback.

“At the play-offs, I'd been out running but then I had a setback when I was told I wasn't allowed to go out and be on the grass for another two months,” Souttar said.

Of course, Australia went on to win the playoffs and qualified for the World Cup in dramatic fashion, helped by Andrew Redmayne’s heroics in the penalty shootout against Peru.

He was on the sideline for that match, and in fact nearly triggered the injury amongst the celebrations.

“I remember when Redders (Redmayne) saved the penalty, I started running on the pitch and I was like, oh, I’m not actually meant to be running here!”

From "kitman" to starting centre-back at the World Cup


From that moment, Souttar focussed on rehab to get into the squad for the Finals, but it went down to the wire.

“I've got to put a lot of a lot of faith and thanks to the boss and the coaching staff, because I know it was a difficult decision to select me obviously only playing one game in a year,” Souttar said.

“But anytime I spoke to the boss he made it clear how much he believed in me, and I think that was a massive part in my rehab, and in my mindset, making sure that I didn't let him down.”

He not only made the squad for the tournament, but played every minute of our games, and was a standout player. We all remember that tackle against Tunisia, right?


@socceroos “Harry you’re so tall, I bet you’re really good at basketball!” 🏀 #socceroos #fifaworldcup #basketball #globetrotters ♬ original sound - HarlemGlobetrotters


Souttar says adrenaline carried him through the tournament and the journey, mixed with the camaraderie within the squad making it one of the best experiences of his life.

“There was just so much mixed emotions with all the highs, lows, euphoric moments, disappointing moments,” Souttar said.

“Looking back, I think it was probably one of the best experiences of my life.

“We've got to be so proud as a group and what we managed to achieve, because a lot of people had us written off before we even touched down in Qatar, they didn’t expect anything from us.”

In the opening game, defeat against France 4-1, Souttar highlighted his passing ability to set up the move that resulted in Craig Goodwin’s goal.

But two games that were remembered best as mammoth defensive performances from Souttar were against Tunisia and Denmark.

Many will remember Mitch Duke’s headed goal which put Australia 1-0 against Tunisia, a moment that Souttar says was ‘one of the iconic moments of the World Cup’.

But many also remember, and still talk about Souttar’s incredible tackle on Taha Yassine Khenissi in the 86th minute which stopped a seriously threatening attack.

“Obviously it was nice to get the tackle,” Souttar said.

Whilst laughing, he added: “In my head I remember him being a lot closer to the goal than he actually was, he was still outside the box!”

It is worth pointing out that in that Tunisia game, he won 100 per cent of his tackles and ground duels, picked up 50 touches, six clearances, and three blocks. Incredible. And it was much of the same against the Danes.

Those performances earned Souttar recognition from his peers with Thomas Deng saying: “Seeing him now and where he is, it's a really good feeling, and I'm happy for him. He deserves to be to be in the Premier League and doing well.”

“First meeting him, I was thinking what a ‘big fella’ but at the same time, a very good footballer, and a very good human being at the same time.”

And Jackson Irvine added: “Harry just announced himself to the world, to the player that he is becoming and already is.

“I know the Premier League was always going to be there for him I think anyone who's played with him that knew that he had that ability.”

The group stage progression presented Australia and Souttar a chance to take on the best in the world in Lionel Messi and Argentina.

Argentina won the match, but Australia took the eventual champions right down to the wire. The result was 2-1, but there were definite moments where it looked like a draw was on the cards.

Souttar said: “We played that game at 100 miles an hour, we gave it everything we had.

“We took it to the very last kick of the ball, and I think when you see their celebrations with the keeper, it was clear how close they were to conceding at the end.”

The loss brought an end to the campaign for the Socceroos; however it did not take away the achievement from the squad. It was a truly record-breaking World Cup for Australia.

Souttar wrapped it all up by saying: “Having the family and friends in the stand and just seeing that something that you've done as a football player and as a group of people, has made so many people happy.

“Seeing what it meant to my family in the stand was probably the most special moment in my career.”