Interview - The Sun-Herald, 21st Dec '08

Talking Turkey

The Sun-Herald's Craig Foster goes one-on-one with Harry Kewell and talks about new club Galatasaray, the Socceroos, Australia hosting the World Cup and what the future holds.

Craig Foster Australia are now ranked No.28 in the world, an all-time high. As a player, what do you think needs to be done to ensure we continue to climb up the rankings?

Harry Kewell I think, first and foremost, make the World Cup. The only reason why you get to the top 30 and progress to the top 20 and top 10 is to put yourself at the top level and be involved in the World Cup, get through to the next round and hopefully go that little bit further. Then again you've got the Asia Cup. You have to win these tournaments. You cannot afford to mess about if you want to stay at the highest level. Once you have that stability and Australia can hopefully get into the top 20, it's looking at the youth and bringing them into the system, training them, bringing them up to the national league and having a good core system here and continue being in the top 20 and, you never know, the top 10. And if we keep doing the right things, there's no reason why we can't get there.

CF A lot of [Australian] players say they want to come back to the A-League at the end of their career. What's your thought on that?

HK A lot of people go out there and say 'I'm going to definitely come back,' but I don't know exactly . . . I have ideas . . . one minute I want to come back and finish my career in Australia. Then I think maybe not, maybe I'll do this. There's two or three options I've got in my head that I want to do. I don't know exactly where it's going to happen or when it's going to happen but my gut feeling is I will finish my career here because it will give something back to the Australian public and Australian football. They've given me a lot of support. I want to come back and just play football to give young kids and the team I choose, or whoever wants me, to give something back before I pack up.

CF When do you pack up? How much longer have you got?

HK I've had a few years out of the game through injury . . . I'm hoping it'll keep me going a bit longer, maybe another five or six years.

CF You were in England for a long time before going to Turkey. Tell us about the differences between the two leagues, the cultures, the styles of football?

HK Technically, they're the same, they all play football. As you say, we've got a very good team [at Galatasaray]. The only difference I would say is the defence side of it. In England, even though we are attacking, in defence everyone knows their roles. In Turkey everybody likes to attack. In the important games they change their mindset and they do defend. In any other game they kind of get out there, and when you have your centre-half sometimes running past you with the ball it's quite frustrating. They're all great players and they know the game, so there's not that much difference.

CF What kind of role are you playing for Galatasaray? Has the coach given you much freedom or do you have a really defined role?

HK No, again I'm playing on the left to the right, there's a young player over there . . . Arda [Turan] is a fantastic player and he's playing on the right and left. We're just chopping over and changing, hopefully giving defenders headaches.

CF What's the pressure like, is it similar to what you were under [in England] or greater?

HK The expectations are to win everything. You cannot come second. Second does not exist in Galatasaray. The fans don't accept it, the president doesn't accept it, even the players don't accept it. We go out to every competition and we have to win it. Every game we have to win. Sometimes that doesn't play a good role. In games you can't always go out there and win, sometimes you have to be happy with a draw. Again, they're that passionate and culturally they love it so much they're really not going to let it go.

CF Tell us about your domestic situation. I understand your family is still back in England. How have you managed that whole issue? Is it because you spend so much time away from home anyway, in camp with the club and playing in Europe?

HK I think it is the best way. We're sitting down trying to work this out. For example, when we played in Germany for our last UEFA game we went away Tuesday and didn't come back 'til Thursday, [away again] Friday and didn't come back until Monday morning. That's a whole week. We're doing that near enough to every week, we play two games a week. It's difficult for the families to be out there. Other players have their family out there and very rarely see them, so at this moment in time the best thing for my kids, because they're at school, is to do their schooling there [England] and they're in a good school. My wife works as well.

CF You've gone there and it's all working beautifully - you're back on track and scoring goals, and playing well for the national team. Is it a weight off your shoulders after the injuries you had?

HK I think I needed a fresh start. As much as Liverpool is a great club, great fan base and all that, I think I needed to get out and experience something else and this was a golden ticket, really to go and try something where the football was just as good, the support is astronomically fantastic, the club itself has all the facilities a footballer needs, so this was a perfect chance for me to just forget about everything. The good thing is I can't read the papers over there, so I don't know what is going on!

CF You played in the 2006 World Cup, so you know what it's like to be there. We're very close to making 2010 and that'd be magnificent. What would it mean if Australia hosted the 2018 Cup?

HK I think we summed it up in the Olympic Games. I think when we went for it a lot of people thought 'nah, maybe not, can't handle it' but to this day people still rate Sydney as one of the best Olympics there ever was. We have the stadiums, we have the facilities, we have the space and we have the people and, because we are such a multicultural country, there's not that many fans who'll need to come here because we'll have them here anyway. I think we have the great core for a World Cup. I can't see why they wouldn't [give it to Australia] but there is a lot of politics in the game but hopefully they can see the light and can give it to us. We have the perfect playing fields for it.