‘We were like brothers’: Kewell recalls Golden Generation camaraderie
Former Socceroo Harry Kewell has opened up on the camaraderie that existed within Golden Generation and how it helped Australia to reach the second round of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
Speaking to Simon Hill, Craig Moore and Zeljko Kalac on their podcast Shim, Spider & So Much Moore, Kewell described the atmosphere within the most successful Socceroos team of all time.
"I always found that playing for my national team was kind of a getaway because we were very lucky as a squad," Kewell explained.
"We would rock up in the middle of nowhere, just play football, put on a performance and it was like we had never been apart.
"It was like we were going back to club football because when you get on a team bus and everyone speaks to everyone, that means you have a good team environment. It was fantastic."
After an unforgettable win over Uruguay to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Kewell and the Socceroos headed to Germany ready to show the world just what Australian football was all about.
It has been 32 years since the nation was last on the world stage and the team had a point to prove.
With a side stacked full of European-based stars like Mark Schwarzer, Tim Cahill, Mark Bresciano, John Aloisi and Mark Viduka, they were not just there to make up the numbers.
Australia beat Japan in their opening game and progressed to the Round of 16 after Kewell scored late in the third group stage match against Croatia to seal a 2-2 draw.
While the Round of 16 journey was not a success, the Socceroos earned many admirers around the world for the way they returned to the tournament with such tenacity, energy and spirit following their long absence.
But it was no surprise to Kewell who could sense the connection he had with his teammates as soon as they landed in Germany.
"You would just walk around the hotel and everyone would just congregate together and talk," Kewell said.
"We would just talk about anything and catchup. It was like we were playing with brothers. You weren't playing with teammates. You were playing with brothers.
"I think that’s why we had such a unique kind of style and unique kind of play.
"I had it a bit in Leeds where I played most of my best football and I had it with Australia.
"It was a connection with my teammates, I knew that they would protect me and I knew that I could protect them.
"You would go out there and give it your all for your teammates and they would do vice versa."