Wright says World Cup qualification will ‘inspire’ future generations
Socceroos defender Bailey Wright said qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar™ in such dramatic fashion will inspire young footballers for years to come.
A 5-4 victory over Peru in the penalty shootout sent the Socceroos to a fifth-consecutive World Cup.
Against all the odds, Graham Arnold’s men triumphed in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
As extra-time drew to a close at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Arnold shocked onlookers by substituting goalkeeper and captain Mat Ryan in the final minute, replacing him with backup Andrew Redmayne.
But it was Redymane, dancing on the goal line just as he has done throughout his A-League Men career, who stood up to make the match-winning save and sent the Socceroos to the World Cup.
Wright, who debuted for Australia back in 2014, said the experience of watching the nation qualify would provide inspiration for future generations of Socceroos.
“We grew up in Australia, we've been part of qualifications and we have seen teams qualify when we were younger so we have seen what it does to a nation and to you as a young footballer,” Wright told Network 10 after the Peru victory.
We are going to inspire generations for years to come. Going to a World Cup is massive. You can't underestimate what we have just done and achieved for ourselves and the whole country.
“A lot was riding on it today, a lot. For us as individuals and as a country, we want to progress our game. We want to develop it and push it forward. It's got a long way to keep pushing and achievements like this.”
The triumph over Peru capped an extraordinary few months for Wright. The 29-year-old arrived in camp after securing promotion with English club Sunderland via the League One play-offs last month while the matches in Qatar were his first for Australia since October 2019.
Having missed out on the 2018 World Cup squad despite being part of the team which defeated Honduras in the play-offs and benching the 2014 World Cup, Wright is eager to have another shot at playing at a World Cup.
“It means a lot, personally and collectively to everyone who has played their part throughout this journey,” he said.
It's been a long and hard journey to get there. People wrote us off and we rose to every occasion that came our way.
“It shows the spirit of the group and the spirit of the lads. Everyone who comes here, you can feel the atmosphere and feel what it means to everyone.
“The country deserves it and we deserve it. To all the ones that wrote us off, put that in your pipe and smoke it because it doesn't feel any better than shutting people up.”