NAME a foreigner who has benefitted more from their switch to the Hyundai A-League than Mariners midfield maestro Michael McGlinchey?
The former Scotland under 20 international arrived in Australia from Celtic in 2009 where he had been on the fringes of the Glasgow giants’ first team.
Having been born in New Zealand, All Whites boss Ricki Herbert’s attention quickly piqued when the midfielder began to show his ability in Australia’s top flight.
And after a debut match for the men from the land of the long white cloud against Jordan in Amman on 09/09/09, McGlinchey was included in Herbert’s squad to face Bahrain in their home-and-away, do-or-die playoff to make the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Playing in both matches against ‘Al-Ahmar’, McGlinchey assisted the All Whites in earning a ticket to FIFA’s showpiece event. Despite not setting foot on the playing field in New Zealand’s three group games in South Africa, he can lay claim to being among the minute number of footballers worldwide to have been selected to venture to a World Cup.
Two successful seasons with Central Coast followed and having earned himself a reputation as a truly consistent performer with an aptitude for providing assists, McGlinchey now finds himself in camp with the ‘OIy-Whites’ – New Zealand’s Olympic team.
What’s more, at only 25 there is the promise of plenty more to come for the former Bhoy who has blossomed under Graham Arnold and now has 16 international appearances to his name.
With the pre-games fixtures done and dusted and McGlinchey and co fine-tuning themselves in the UK before tests against Belarus, Egypt and Brazil, the crafty midfielder took time out of his schedule to explain how his selection for London 2012 had come as a shock.
“To be honest, I never thought I would get the chance to be involved in an Olympic team,” he said. “I was always aware there could be three overage players, but it did come as a great surprise when I got the call from Neil Emblen to say he wanted me in his squad.
“The Olympics is something I used to love watching when I was younger. To have the opportunity to play at the games is something I will cherish forever.
“I’m really looking forward to the chance to play at the Olympics and hopefully create more memories like we had at the World Cup,” he said.
As Oceania’s representative at London 2012, New Zealand’s men’s team will play their three Group C fixtures at some of England’s most revered Stadiums. Commencing their campaign against Belarus in Coventry, the Oly-Whites will then challenge Egypt at Old Trafford in Manchester, before battling Brazil at Newcastle’s noisy St James’ Park.
McGlinchey is well aware of the need for his team to get at least a point out of their first match against the Eastern-Europeans if they are to have any realistic chance of progressing to the tournaments’ last eight.
“I think the opening game is massive for us. If we can get off to a good start it will give us the confidence we will need to progress in the tournament.
“When you look at their [Brazil’s] squad, it is full of multi-million dollar players. To play against Brazil at a big tournament would be a dream come true.
“I think we will have to remember to try and enjoy it,” he said.
McGlinchey will not be short on support when he turns out for the Kiwi’s in Coventry, Manchester and Newcastle. Indeed, he said family and friends are set to travel down the motorway in strong numbers to help encourage him from the stands throughout his Olympic adventure.
“With the games being in the UK it will be great for my family and friends to be able to drive down to England to watch me play. I think they have a small bus heading down to watch!”
“I am confident I can play at this level and I am looking forward to the challenge.”
“We have been in London for a few days and you can feel the excitement. I think by the time kick-off comes on the 26th the Stadiums will be electric.”
Stay tuned to ccmariners.com.au throughout the Games as we provide updates of Michael McGlinchey’s and the Oly-Whites’ fortunes at London 2012.