By Mile Jedinak

With two games to go in the third round of World Cup qualifiers, it’s crunch time for the Socceroos.

I used to love these occasions. I was part of three qualification campaigns and in each one I played a different role within the team.

The road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia is particularly memorable because we had to play an extra couple of games to qualify, and in the final match I scored the first and only hattrick of my career.

Those goals against Honduras were some of the most important I ever scored, but what I remember most is the weeks leading up to the game in Sydney.

At the time I was struggling with an adductor injury. I had gone through surgery in the off-season and the recovery had taken a little longer than expected. 


The injury caused me to miss two crucial qualifiers against Syria. I watched the second game from my home over here in England, sweating so much that by full time I had to change my t-shirt. 

As soon as the referee blew his whistle, I knew that I needed to focus all my energy on getting back on the pitch so that I could play my part against whichever team we drew from CONCACAF.

In the end that team was Honduras, so we had to travel to San Pedro Sula for the first leg. I hadn’t played much football in the lead-up so I wasn’t sure how my body would respond to the loading and the heavy pitch, but we managed to come away with a draw and I felt ok after the chartered flight to Sydney.

It wasn’t until the day before the game where I started feeling a bit run-down. Knowing how hard I’d worked to get back into the team, I blocked it out and ended up scoring a hattrick.


I believe those goals could have been scored by anyone in the team. The important thing was not who scored, but how we pulled together to get the job done. We did it for the thousands of fans who backed us just like we supported the Socceroos teams who came before us.

Everyone involved in Australian football knows that qualifying for the World Cup is huge for our nation. It’s something that can never be taken for granted. 

I am old enough to remember the long journey the Socceroos have been on to get to World Cups. As a fan, I remember the heartbreak of 1997, the disappointment of 2001 and the ecstacy of 2005.

I made my international debut in 2008 and soon realised that every member of the squad is important, no matter what role you play. Even if you don’t get minutes, it’s vital to maintain certain standards to push your teammates.


I recall sitting on the bench with Josh Kennedy and Tom Rogic for the final game against Iraq at Stadium Australia in 2013. In the second half, the score was 0-0 and I turned to the lads and said something like, “whoever goes on is going to change the game for us.”

Both of them went on and Josh ended up scoring the crucial goal that took us to Brazil the following year. 

I’ve been fortunate to have seen first-hand the evolution of the national team over the past decade, from the Golden Generation to the current Socceroos. 

Players come and go, but what stays is a determination to give everything for the green and gold. I’m confident that every player in the squad will be ready to step up in those crucial moments.