image.jpg

G'day Ange.

So, this is the day, huh?  It's finally arrived. 

I know this is everything your life's work has been about. You've not made any secret of that. You always wanted to test yourself against the very best.

Today you get your chance.

Still, I can't help but cast my mind back to those days when all of this seemed like a distant planet. 

I remember you with me in the commentary box in 2004 as The Socceroos were playing Turkey and then in Adelaide at the OFC Nations Cup against New Zealand and The Solomon Islands.

The OFC Nations Cup. 

Look where we've come from, look where we are.

You've had your heavy hits along the way. Losing The Young Socceroos job and being publicly scalded on TV for attempting to do a difficult job in impossible circumstances must have stung.

You didn't let it beat you though. 

You picked yourself up, packed your stuff up and headed to Greece and the back roads of Greece's lower leagues to find what football meant to you.

The courage of that decision reflects the philosophy that we so desperately want to see in your Socceroos team today.

Nothing is easy. 

Nothing is impossible.

Your only limitation is that which you impose on yourself by not daring to test yourself.

That you came home as coach of The Brisbane Roar and transformed the game in Australia is indisputable. You demanded more of your players than anyone had previously dared.

 Your reward was a team that seemed unbeatable.

Even those that once derided you sang your praise but there were no recriminations.

The past is a prison if you chose to live in it.

And eventually your country came calling, and, well here we are.

As a young boy growing up dreaming of playing at The World Cup it must be surreal to be here today with the whole world watching.

Knowing you, I know that's exactly how you want it to be. 

You can only be your best if you're prepared to risk it all.

There are no guarantees, you know that better than anyone. If your Socceroos are put to the sword here on the edge of Amazon, your critics will be waiting with their slings and arrows.

Already they've put you on notice. You swept away the old guard and a few old soldiers are ready to run a guerrilla campaign against you given the chance.

You'll know this. I'm sure it won't bother you a bit. You're not in this to be one of the boys.

If the performance we see from The Socceroos reflects the values that have guided your journey to be here I know the team will give us a performs we can be proud of, whatever the result.

From all of us who have made this remarkable journey to support you and your team, we wish you all the very best.

Good luck mate.

Francis Leach

Comment