A decade ago today, Australia’s National Football team, known locally as ‘The Socceroos’, returned to the international and world stage at the 2006 FIFA Football World Cup, held in Germany.
The National team a team had not reached the World Cup Finals since 1974, in what was their first and only appearance. Household names such as Kewell, Viduka, Cahill, Schwarzer, Grella and Marco Bresciano took the nation on a journey across Oceania into Europe and playing football against the Heavyweights of World Football, across the cities of Kaiserslautern, München and Stuttgart.
Harry Kewell scoring the equaliser against Croatia that sealed 2-2 Draw, the sole Point needed to reach the Round of 16, against eventual Champions Italy.
The story one that is now part of Australian folklore.
And since these names have now passed, there have been other names held up and touted the next The next Harry Kewell or the next Tim Cahill – The Golden Boys. Many have come and gone.
Of the current crop, a name that hasn’t been fallen by the wayside just yet, is a Bhoy strolling it in the west of Scotland: Tom Rogic.
Tom Rogic has been one of The Roos’ best prospects during the past six years, having cemented a legacy plying his trade in Futsal whilst only a teenager, and then successfully transitioning to the eleven-man game.
Having been signed as priority mail by Neil Lennon’s Celtic in 2013 during a trial in Spain, for much of the promise and potential of Tom Rogic that urged the Celtic Scouts to sign him, for the most part, it has remained as just that: Potential.
Rogic at Hampden Park Sunday.
Rogic played probably one of his most complete performances at Hampden Park on Sunday against second placed Aberdeen.
He dispatched the first goal of the League Cup Final with an emphatic left foot curler into the bottom right corner past the Dons goalkeeper Joe Lewis, who is no mug. The goal sent some of the Aberdeen fans off their seats. The goal had come seconds after Aberdeen should have scored having controlled the opening ten minutes.
Tom Rogic opens the scoring vs Aberdeen in The Scottish League Cup Final.
It was a goal that shocked the stadium.
The lad then went on to provide the assist leading to James Forrest’s second, and the pass which lead to Forrest being bundled over in the box leading to the penalty.
He was involved in everything that was good with Celtic’s attacking threat. And when it was noted that Celtic’s Scott Sinclair (Signed from Man. City) would be sidelined, Rogic was the man.
Still in Fourth Gear.
For all of Tom Rogic’s positive play, there is the constant pre-emptive attitude from the head of the Socceroos and Brendan Rodgers to haul Rogic off at around 70 minutes. Fitness and injury a constant concern.
When he was signed by the then Celtic Boss Neil Lennon in 2013, it took Rogic 2-years to break into the Celtic first team. He had the elder statesman Kris Commons in front of him, in addition the fact that his stay in Scotland had been protracted by injury.
If you were looking up Tom Rogic EA FIFA 17 profile you would be looking at Ball Control, Green, 95, Balance, 96, Stamina 26, Red.
The problem remains of Tom Rogic can primarily be put down to one word: Attitude. He does ‘just enough’ on the pitch to put in about a 7/10 shift and maybe that is enough. Maybe not. But He has the potential to be a top 10 player – Word Class – ‘Worldie’.
He is the type of player that is guilty of guiling through in tight spaces and scoring from difficult angles but also turning over possession under no such pressure. Against stronger players, he is easily ‘checked’, nudged and bumped off the ball. A reading on FIFA 17 would show Strength rating in the red zone in the low twenties.
Rogic has also started every game but 1 in the league this season bar international duties for Australia. What makes you want to pull your hair out is that he is hauled off the pitch on the 60 or 70th minute mark. This is a guy who whilst having a string of injuries, is 23 years old. When reminded by the gaffer about the manner of the substitutions, it’s a constant case of a lack of fitness; blowing the gasket just after the interval.
Thriller at Fir Park versus Motherwell.
Decembers pre-game match between Celtic away to Motherwell, was by far the game of the season. To the outside football fan, lower end Scottish opposition seem like part-timers to the likes of The Old Firm, Aberdeen and Hearts. But this was simply not the case at Fir Park.
Trailing 2-0 at Half-Time from a sublime brace from Englishman Lewis Moult gave The Champions quite a workout in 0* Celsius temperatures in Glasgow, and not far off the iceberg in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, merely 15 miles away.
Callum McGregor got the ball rolling in the 48th with a Callum McGregor finish (Clinical and efficient) before Lionel Ainsworth made it 3-1 for the home side, Motherwell. It came down to the 90th and with the teams locked at 3-3; Rogic left on the pitch unsubstituted. He almost tore the roof Fir Park when he curled low right-foot shot into the corner in front of the pitch invading Celtic support to make it 4-3. For the first time in a very long time he’s making headlines, and not just in Scotland.
The intimate nature of Fir Park meant the fans were able to join into the Celebrations at Motherwell, with a last-gasp winner.
The papers and pundits back home believe that when Celtic exit the UCL in December, he will make the move in January. There isn’t a doubt that he will be sold – Celtic needing to sell talent to be able to compete against their English big spenders. It is a question of when, and not if.
Celtic is a stepping stone and the question that lingers for every Celtic player is whether they’ve completed their apprenticeship. Many have disappointingly vanished into fat air.
In Australia, what isn’t understood is that he won’t make the first team in a Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga side. Rogic has only started to turn the wheels and sprout up from beneath the soil. If Rogic does decide to leave in the summer, Celtic will command a hefty fee with 2-years remaining on his contract having signed a new contract in August 2016. The Celtic fans and Australian public only wish for his potential to flower.
In whatever timeframe, the consensus remains that Rogic leaves as a pro at Parkhead and to kick on unto great things. What is holding Tom Rogic back? Probably only he can write the next chapter ending in this journey.