‘Veteran’ Spira a leader at 25

He considers himself a 'young veteran' and Matthew Spiranovic says he's ready to be the Socceroos defensive leader as part of a green-horn back four in Brazil.

It's been a stunning turnaround for the Western Sydney Wanderers star who, just six months ago, looked a long shot for a World Cup berth.

But after a superb Hyundai A-League and AFC Champions League campaign, he is now all-but assured of spot in the 23 and will be the most experienced defender in Ange Postecoglou's defence.

Spiranovic, who debuted for the national team as a teenager in 2008, is still relatively inexperienced in international football with just 17 caps to his name in that time.

But after the omissions of Lucas Neill and Sasa Ognenovski from the preliminary World Cup squad, the 25-year-old is suddenly the 'old man' of Australia's defence.

"It is a relatively young team but we still have a lot of leaders in the squad but if it means I have to take up that role then I'm looking forward to it," Spiranovic said from Terrigal Beach on Monday.

"I've been a part of this set-up since I was 18. I feel like I've been here for a while. I've experienced a few campaigns, whether it is qualifiers or Asian Cup.

"What Ange has said from the start, he picks his sides on merit. It doesn't matter about age. If the player is performing well and doing a job they will pick themselves.

"It's exciting times for Australian football and I'm just happy to be a part of it and if I have to take up that role in the defence I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Despite being around the national side for a number of years, this will be Spiranovic's first World Cup after he was overlooked from Pim Verbeek's squad in 2010.

At the time he had moved from German club Nurnberg to the Urawa Red Diamonds in Japan and wasn't playing regular football.

Spiranovic said that disappointment was driving him to ensure he is part of the squad this time around and was a big reason why he returned to the A-League this season.

"It was the right football decision coming back to Australia. I needed regular football, needed to get back to full fitness and be in the right football environment," he said.

"The Wanderers ticked all those boxes so it worked out well.

"Every footballer wants to play in a World Cup and I'm no different.

"It's the pinnacle of our sport. Every footballer aspires to play at that level."

Spiranovic admitted it's hard not to think ahead to the calibre of nations and players he could be coming up against when the World Cup begins next month.

But don't expect him to be daunted by marking the likes of Robin van Persie, Diego Costa, Alexis Sanchez and Arjen Robben.

"You have to look forward to it and embrace it. It's a great opportunity to show what you can do and surprise people," Spiranovic said.

"In world football we're definitely going to be the underdogs going into these games but it's something we have to embrace and try and take it to them and surprise people.

"It's why we play football and it's going to be an awesome challenge ahead.

"This team is full of youth, enthusiasm and everyone giving  110 per cent so that holds us in good stead going over to Brazil."

Send Off the Socceroos
Socceroos vs South Africa, presented by NAB

Monday 26 May 2014
ANZ Stadium, Sydney 
Kick-off: 7.30pm
Tickets from $30, including public transport. Buy now!