Jackson Irvine was just a teenager when he watched from the stands in Kaiserslautern as the Caltex Socceroos won their first match at a FIFA World Cup™ against Japan in 2006.
Tim Cahill’s stunning brace after coming off the bench inspired Australia to a 3-1 win, with Irvine part of the green and gold army celebrating inside the Fritz-Walter Stadium.
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Now 12 years on and the all-action midfielder is set to realise his own FIFA World Cup™ dream when Australia takes on France in their opening Group C match on Saturday night.
Irvine is in the mix to start for Australia in Kazan having impressed off the bench in the friendly win over Hungary on Sunday (AEST).
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“I was fortunate enough to be in Kaiserslautern for the game against Japan when Timmy [Cahill] scored two goals and in Munich as well against Brazil,” Irvine told reporters in Russia when asked about a potential FIFA World Cup™ debut.
“I grew up a Socceroos fan going to all the games and being a part of those experiences and now the idea I could potentially be on the other side of the fence and be out there playing…it is the dream come true.
“It culminates in all the hard work and sacrifice you have put in over the years. It’s going to be amazing.”
And Irvine could be unleashed from the start on France’s star-studded squad for the Group C opener on Saturday at 8pm live on SBS and Optus Sport.
The 25-year-old – who plays for Hull City in England’s Championship – has the type of energy and work-rate Bert van Marwijk could lean on for the challenge of facing Les Bleus.
“We’re fortunate in our squad to have a number of players that have different qualities in the attacking third. All over the pitch we can use our own individual strengths,” Irvine said.
“There’s is parts of my game that are different to other players, maybe my energy and running in behind offers something different.
“You have to use your own individual qualities to try and persuade the manager to try and get you out on the pitch to affect the game.”
Irvine certainly affected the game against Hungary in Budapest, with his cross in stoppage-time leading to the match-winning own goal in the 2-1 triumph.
While the overall performance may not have been up to the team’s high standards, Irvine believes the late winner shows the real character in the squad.
“You look at the Hungary game where maybe the football wasn’t the highest quality but that winning mentality shone through at the end,” he said.
“In particular when you lose a late goal to be able to bounce back and get a late winner it does show that winning mentality.
“It is something at training we like dong out young v old games, it does get quite competitive but maybe it’s that competitive edge that can be the difference at this level.
Irvine added: “I think we saw it at the Confederations Cup last year…coming up against the top nations we showed no fear and come out fighting against the best teams.
“We’re going to have to show that on Saturday…we’re planning to play a way where the opposition, it’s not going to matter the way they play, because we’re going to have our structures.”
Keep up to date with the team as they face France in Kazan:
Caltex Socceroos Official Twitter - @Socceroos
Caltex Socceroos Official Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/Socceroos/