Sunday, 3 June 2007

Lucas Neill- Question Time

There is an interview with Lucas Neill in this month's Australian FourFourTwo magazine. Most of it covers various aspects of international football, and some of it is pretty facile, but it is still worth a read if you can snag a copy. I have included an abridged version for your perusal.

Lucas Neill- Question Time
By Richie Young

There was some footage shown here recently on Total Football after West Ham's last game of the season. You were speaking on it, and had quite an English accent, which raised a few eyebrows. So people were thinking, “Hey, what’s going on?”
[Laughs] When you start hanging around cockneys every day of the week, you start trying to fit in with them and speak their language. When there’s a lack of Aussies around you sometimes forget how to keep your Aussie twang! But it’s back now and hopefully we can get a few Aussies in camp next year and I won’t sound like a cockney anymore.

Okay, what’s the main thing that you have to do when you get back here? Anything you love particularly about Australia?
Just catch up with as many friends and family as possible, and just generally live the lifestyle, soak up as much of it as you can while you’re here. Even now it’s winter and the weather’s amazing. The food’s always great, the people are always friendly, and I just like to soak all that up. Spend a little bit of time at the beach, and have a bbq; all the things you used to grow up on. The Minties, the Twisties, the meat pies. You feel like you’re an Aussie again, even if it’s only for two or three weeks. Even my dad, he’s originally Northern Irish but he’s an Aussie. He’s an Aussie with a mixed Aussie-Irish accent. My mum and brother wouldn’t let him have it any other way! He’s Australia’s Nonumber one supporter when we go on tour. Always at the games, always wearing the bright yellow shirt and making sure that everyone knows he’s singing!

How'd you feel back after the World Cup and being nominated as a Batchelor of The Year? These are all little things that go with the profile that we’ve been given now as Socceroos. It doesn’t really mean anything to me; it’s not a title that I was looking to win. I’d much rather be Captain of the Year or in the Team of the Season... Professional of the Year. All those off-the-field activities are irrelevant. It’s nice though, it’s nice that people put you in competitions like that, but the outcome isn’t important.

Have you seen yourself on any billboards yet?
No, not yet. Everyone keeps talking about the Rooney and Ronaldinho photo, and it’s amazing to be in a poster with those two, because they are truly world class and I was just a little bit lucky. The time was right for me. I was probably Nike’s only Australian footballer that was available at the time so I feel very privileged to be on that poster! Haven’t seen it yet, so I don’t know how many there are.

You’re left handed, but you kick with your right boot. What’s the story there?
A bit weird there, I play golf on my right, kick with my right, play snooker and tennis with my left, table tennis with my left, throw with my right, write with my left and try to kick with both.

You’re ambidextrous?
I’d have to be pretty close, but I used to train with my right boot off and practise with just my left to try and get better with that, so I’m quite balanced that way. I guess people probably see it as a bit weird.

You've told us before that beating Uruguay was the best atmosphere you’ve ever experienced. Even more so than the World Cup itself?
Yep. Because there was so much more riding on it, don’t get me wrong, the World Cup was a fantastic journey, but there was no pressure. Whatever we got was a bonus. In the last 10 minutes of the Japan game, it got very, very close to that atmosphere, but that was more of an emotional feeling; the fact that we were almost out but we weren’t. But to get to the World Cup, in a fairy tale scripted way we did it, in front of 80,000 Aussies, knowing that millions more were watching. Knowing we hadn’t been to the World Cup for 32 years, it gives me tingles talking about it, and it went to penalties. You could hear the emotion and see the emotion of every single person in the crowd, kicking every ball, running and tackling every tackle with you, it was amazing, truly amazing. The lucky ones got to see it live.

The young players that are in camp with you currently, you’ve had a few days with them now. How are they looking?
The arrogance and confidence of some of them, you’d never know this was their first time in the squad. There’s such a great belief, and it’s great that they’re showing so much confidence in the training ground. It’s good to see that they get good education on their careers through their respective clubs and it’s such a massive bonus for the national team. What we’ve got to do now is to project their profiles and send a message out here because they’re a little bit unknown, and people want to see the guys they are used to seeing, but these guys are the future. And the future is bright.

The issue of the captaincy hasn’t really disappeared; it’s still there. Mark Viduka hasn’t stated his intentions and obviously everyone wants the job, but no one wants to push anyone out of it. Have you been given assurances?
No, as ultimately it falls down to the manager and his decision, and I suppose he is in a difficult, but good position where he has a few leaders to rely on. One’s in camp, one’s not in camp. It’s a great honour. I just hope it doesn’t look like we’re cheapening the honour of captaining the country by having to hand it from one to the other every now and again. Every time I get a chance to get it I’ll take it, and it’s difficult to give it back. It’s all about respect and timing, and hopefully I’ll continue to play well for my country and continue to be a leader on and off the pitch and I’ll get more chances, a more permanent chance.

Pre-game rituals. Do you have any?
No. Well, I do drink two litres of fluid with salt sachets.

Do any of the Socceroos have weird rituals?
Yeah, there’s the left foot before the right foot with your boots and some people have to listen to a certain song before they go out. Other people like to sleep shortly before they have to get ready, some people have to have a 20-minute run, there’s all sorts of things.

Where would you take a visitor to in Sydney?
I’d walk them over the harbour bridge, catch a ferry to Manly, have lunch, come back and eat at one of the top restaurants at Australia...

The part of Australia you most want to see, but haven’t yet?
I’d like to see Kakadu and Uluru.

Your favourite meal of the day?
It’s got to be dinner!

The biggest joker in the Socceroos? Timmy Cahill is up there!

The fastest you’ve been in a car?
I got to test a car on the racetrack, so I got to go 150 miles an hour.

Your second favourite sport?
Probably golf.

Your favourite holiday destination?
Las Vegas.

The most goals you’ve scored in a match? You started out as a striker...
In a match? When I was young I think I scored about 10 in a game but I must have only been 7 or 8.

Your favourite ground that you’ve played on?
Old Trafford, because I’ve won twice there and we always play well there. It’s the Theatre of Dreams.

Taken from Australia FourFourTwo

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