Melbourne Heart FC is proud to count its 2013/14 Club captain, Harry Kewell, among the players who have represented the Club.
Melbourne Heart’s final regular season match of 2014 will draw the curtain on a career that has made Kewell arguably the best and most influential footballer in Australia’s history.
In a professional career that has spanned nearly 20 years, Kewell has captured the public’s imagination and inspired debate like few other sportspeople.
Melbourne Heart FC Chief Executive Officer, Scott Munn, paid tribute to Kewell:
“The combination of Kewell’s sparkling playing style, coupled with his collection of achievements that is unrivalled among contemporaries, has made Kewell a driving force behind Australian football’s growth over the past two decades.
“As a footballer, he has experienced the highs and lows of the sport and his experiences are indelibly joined to the modern narrative of Australian football, having played a leading role in almost all of Australia’s famous moments of the past two decades.
“Kewell’s achievements at club level and international level remain exceptional and may not be surpassed for a generation. His career has inspired a generation of footballers and football fans in Australia and he is somebody of whom the entire community should be proud.”
Kewell’s star first shone in 1996 when he became the youngest player to debut for the Socceroos at the age of 17 years and 7 months.
The following year, Kewell would play a starring role in one of the most dramatic nights in Australian sporting history. As a 19-year-old, Kewell would score against Iran in front of 110,000 fans in Tehran to set the stage for the return leg in Melbourne, a night as infamous as it is unforgettable.
In front of a heaving MCG crowd, Kewell would again score the opener only for Iran to score two late goals and secure the final place at the 1998 World Cup at Australia’s expense.
Current Melbourne Heart FC teammate and good friend Patrick Kisnorbo was at the match.
“I think a star was born that night. I couldn’t believe it for such a young player, that day was a special moment for Harry. He went on to become one of the best players, not just in England, but in the world.”
Eight years on, Kewell would again be instrumental on the biggest stage, providing an assist and scoring a penalty in the World Cup play-off at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney against Uruguay on November 16, 2005.
The win in the penalty shoot-out would send Australia to its first World Cup since 1974 and give all Australian sports fans a moment of eternal resonance.
Still at Primary School, current teammate Ben Garuccio recalls watching the game on the family couch.
“I was only nine years-old at the time and I never dreamed that I would have the opportunity to train with him and learn from him; he has been a great mentor and has helped me significantly. I thought he played a huge part in that game that sent us to Germany.”
At the 2006 World Cup, Kewell’s contribution would again be decisive.
In the final Group F match of the tournament and needing a point against the highly-fancied Croatia, Kewell’s late goal would tie the scores at two-all and ensure Australia’s historic passage to the knockout stage was secured.
Joey Didulica, Melbourne Heart FC’s Goalkeeper Coach, watched from the opposing bench for Croatia that evening in Stuttgart.
“It was a great moment for Harry, after being such a great player for not only his club but for his country over the years, I think it typified what a champion he was on the big stage.”
Having worked closely with Kewell since his arrival at Melbourne Heart, General Manager, Football Operations, John Didulica was thankful for his contribution to the Club and to the Hyundai A-League.
“Melbourne Heart will certainly be the better for having had Harry among its numbers for the past season. Seeing the impact Harry had throughout the year on his team-mates and football fans was remarkable,” Didulica said.
“This season, we played matches in regional Western Australia, played in Lismore, played in regional New South Wales and Victoria and the impact he had was quite staggering. The funniest thing was seeing the fans who were booing him lining up to get his autograph after the match- and not once did he refuse a request.
“We trust Harry will continue to have an important role to play in the future of the sport at all levels, something I know he is hugely passionate about.”