Ranking Harry Kewell’s top 5 moments in green & gold
Twenty-four years ago on Thursday, Harry Kewell made his international debut in what went on to be one of the most illustrious Socceroos careers ever.
On April 24 1996, Kewell became the third youngest player to debut for the Australia national team when he faced Chile aged 17 years and 7 months.
Across 19 seasons and three continents Kewell amassed 91 goals in 381 club appearances, including a Champions League Final for European giants Liverpool.
But it’s his exploits in the green and gold that Australian supporters appreciate the most, including captaining the Socceroos among his 56 national caps and appearances in two FIFA World Cups.
To celebrate the career of arguably Australia’s most talented player, we look back on the top five moments of his international career.
5. Opening his international account in style
A 19-year-old Kewell was selected in both legs of Australia’s 1997 World Cup Qualifying matches against Iran.
In front of estimated crowds of 100,000 and 85,000 in Tehran and Melbourne respectively, the pacey winger scored in both matches.
Although Australia would cruelly lose out on World Cup Qualification, Kewell’s talent and ability to produce on the big stage was a sign of things to come.
4. Upsetting the poms in their own backyard
In 2003, Australia made headlines by upsetting England 3-1 at Upton Park in London.
Although a friendly, the three lions started big name players including Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Michael Owen.
Kewell caused Manchester United legend Gary Neville nightmares on the left wing, scoring Australia's second goal in a night that lives long in Australian football folklore.
3. Leading Australia to the AFC Asian Cup Final
After a disappointing previous AFC Asian Cup campaign, Australia and Kewell were out to make amends in the 2011 edition.
Kewell started in all the Socceroos' matches in the Qatar-based tournament, scoring three pivotal goals for the green and gold.
Whilst opening the scoring in the semi-final against Uzbekistan, it was Kewell’s extra-time header in the quarter-final against Iran that lives longest in the memories of Socceroos fans.
2. Getting benched against Uruguay
Seriously? Yes seriously. In what proved to be a masterstroke by Coach Guus Hiddink, Kewell was famously benched for Australia’s 2005 World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay.
Introduced after 31 minutes, it took Kewell just four minutes to assist Australia’s opening goal, sending a sold-out Sydney Football Stadium crowd into raptures.
After being involved in neat build up play it was Kewell’s scuffed shot that bobbled into the path of a Marco Bresciano thunderbolt which found the back of the net.
1. It just had to be Harry!
In the final group game of Australia’s first World Cup in 32 years, the Socceroos found themselves in need of a goal against Croatia to avoid facing elimination from the tournament.
Playing through intense pain, Australia’s number 10 appeared at the back post to volley home a goal he described as the ‘greatest of his career’.
A historic night for the Socceroos was capped off with the now famous quote from commentator Simon Hill, “Australia's golden boy has come up with a golden goal! It just had to be Harry!”
A golden player he may have been, Kewell was undoubtedly plagued with injury throughout his time at the top.
However, his performances for Australia, particularly in times of great importance remained unwavered.
No feat highlights this more than this goal which lead Australia into the last 16 of a FIFA World Cup during the Socceroos’ ‘golden generation’ of the 2000s.