Wade – Neill an ideal skipper

Former Australia great Paul Wade has backed Lucas Neill as an ideal Qantas Socceroos skipper, despite the defender currently being without a club.

Former Australia great Paul Wade has backed Lucas Neill as an ideal Qantas Socceroos skipper, despite the defender currently being without a club.

With Neill set to receive his 50th cap as national team skipper (total games) in the friendly against Scotland on Wednesday, some media commentators have asked whether he should have retained the armband for this fixture, given, like Harry Kewell, he is not currently signed to a club.

But Wade said Neill-s role and standing within the team meant he should be the first name on Osieck-s list every time, and that the national team boss had his consistent team strategy correct.

“I-ve always thought the Socceroos are not a selection team,” Wade said. “If you want to start messing around with that stuff you might pick the U23s - that-s the time to blood people for the sake of it.

“I don-t care how old they are and right now Lucas Neill, if he-s fit enough, he-s certainly got more experience in the tactical side, let him remain the captain.

“Mlian Ivanovic was 35-36, Alex Tobin 37 - if you focused on their age they would never play. But they were the best and they had the ability to be the best all the time, that-s why they were made captains.

"They have to be there all the time, they have to be consistent. If the Socceroos are playing the captain should be the first to be there and Lucas is.

Wade went on to say that Neill possessed all the right characteristics of a great national team skipper.

“One thing I-ve loved about Lucas was his first interview, I thought, ‘How eloquent is he?- He was that relaxed and well spoken, you would have thought you were just sitting down chatting over lunch.

“Being a captain is all about your enthusiasm and being able to do what you do and get other people to do it, without actually telling them. Lucas is that type of bloke, he does it to the best of his ability and everyone else is inspired by that.”

Wade captained the national team 46 times in A internationals, behind only Peter Wilson (60) and Neill himself (49), and said that although the role of Socceroos skipper had changed slightly over the years, Neill followed in a line of Socceroos whose job it was to bring an often disparate squad together when it mattered.

“The only reason I became captain was because a) it was a name you could pronounce and b) nobody else was left because they all went overseas," he joked.

“As far as being able to bring a team together it was probably easier when I was captain than they way they do now - they pop in have five days to play and then get out.

“That-s a tough gig, when you bring players from all different types of football and who don-t see each other very often; there-s always a good connection but it needs someone to keep it fun and enjoyable, and having the enthusiasm to drive it.

“Charlie Yankos, for example, was captaining his country when we were all part-time footballers, working 9-5 Monday to Friday, and got the weekend off to play Brazil.

“Whilst there wasn-t the media pressure and the public focus, there was still a problem of trying to make it as professional as possible while these fellas were making $300 a win, $200 a draw and $100 a loss.

“I wouldn-t put Lucas any higher than anybody else but as far as the presence on the ground when he-s playing you knew areas of the ground were being organised because he-s got a big mouth, he-s got authority, and he-s been doing it for so long people on the park react to that.”

The Qantas Socceroos take on Scotland in an international friendly at Edinburgh-s Easter Road Stadium on Wednesday, 15 August. Kick off is at 8pm local time (Kick off is at 5am AEST, Thursday, 16 August).

Australia-s FIFA World Cup qualification journey resumes on Tuesday, 11 September, when the Qantas Socceroos meet the challenge of Jordan in Amman. Kick off is at 7pm local time (2am AEST, Wednesday, 12 September).

The Qantas Socceroos are next in Australia in 2013, starting with a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman at Sydney-s Stadium Australia on Tuesday, 26 March. Kick off is at 7.30pm local time.

The Qantas Socceroos return to Stadium Australia on Tuesday, 18 June to continue their FIFA World Cup qualification journey against Iraq. Kick off is at 7.30pm local time.