Emerging Socceroos leader Carl Valeri has urged Australia’s World Cup veterans not to retire en masse, hoping some will help guide the team towards the 2014 tournament.
Valeri, who made big strides at the World Cup with appearances in all three games and emerged as the Socceroos’ midfield string-puller, says Australian soccer needs at least some of the “golden generation” to remain.
“That’s totally their decision but I hope some of them stick around,” Valeri said.
“In this tournament they really helped the younger players through.
“I was amazed by the leadership from every one of the older players and I hope they stick around as long as possible to guide us through (the 2014 World Cup campaign).
“If they’re all to leave it would be very difficult.”
Valeri may get his wish despite Craig Moore and Scott Chipperfield being set to quit international football, and Mark Bresciano and Vinnie Grella putting their Socceroos careers on hold.
Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill have all dismissed thoughts of international retirement, while 37-year-old Mark Schwarzer is yet to make a firm decision on his plans.
And 25-year-old Valeri may well be among the team leaders come the next World Cup campaign with his performance in South Africa, admitting he has become far more comfortable with each Socceroos appearance.
“The first game was a big shock – vuvuzelas going off everywhere, we copped a goal early and didn’t react quick enough,” Valeri said.
“We did all we could apart from the game, but we did all we could to bounce back.
“There’s a bit of disappointment but this is one of the most successful Socceroos teams ever and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”
Valeri departs South Africa with news on whether his move from former club Grosseto to fellow Italian outfit Sassuolo, with whom he spent the last six months on loan, becomes permanent expected by the weekend.
The clubs are haggling over a transfer fee, with Valeri keen to make the move to Sassuolo.
The Socceroos broke camp and started returning home from South Africa on Thursday, with most likely to have departed by Friday.
The team’s next scheduled match is an away friendly against Slovenia in August, and Football Federation Australia wants to have Pim Verbeek’s replacement in charge by then.
Cahill has urged Australia not to be disappointed by the Socceroos’ group stage exit, and instead be excited by how much spirit was shown and what that means for the future.
“We deserved that win, we came back in the Ghana game and showed our spirit,” Cahill said.
“We’re a great group of lads that really care for each other. I’m just proud to be part of this team.
“Four points in a competition like this is exceptional, and we won our last game against a very good team.”