Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has announced that Mile Jedinak will captain Australia at the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Brazil next month.
Jedinak wore the captain’s armband in Australia’s friendly against Ecuador on March 6, but has been officially named the replacement for long-term captain Lucas Neill, who was not included in the Socceroos squad that was announced last weekend.
Jedinak showed his captaincy credentials when he led Crystal Palace to a surprise 11th place finish in the 2013/2014 English Premier League season and Postecoglou said that the leadership that the 29-year-old had shown for his club side was one of the major reasons that he had awarded Jedinak the prized role.
“Mile Jedinak will captain our national team at the 2014 World Cup,” Postecoglou said.
“It is a privileged position and an accolade he richly deserves after the incredible job he has done at Crystal Palace in the toughest club competition in world football – the English Premier League.
“Mile Jedinak embodies everything that is great about Australian football and Australia as a nation.
“He has risen to the top of world football and done it the hard way from humble beginnings where he has battled and believed in himself to overcome the odds with an enormous work ethic and passion for what he does.”
Jedinak made his debut for Australia in 2008 and was included in Australia’s squad for the 2010 World Cup, although he only featured in the opening game against Germany, and has since stamped himself as one of the first players selected in the Socceroos side.
The Sydney United junior will be supported in his role as captain by veteran Socceroos Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano, who will both be playing at their third World Cup, and Postecoglou said that all three will play a key role in leading the young Australian side.
“I have no doubt he will lead the team with distinction in Brazil and we will have two of our greatest-ever football players in Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano giving the team what I believe is strong leadership,” Postecoglou said.
“Mile will be our captain but all three players will share the onus of leading this group to the World Cup where we will be representing the people of Australia with enormous pride and drive.
“We are going to Brazil to do all 23 million Australians proud.”
Jedinak will join Peter Wilson (1974), Mark Viduka (2006) and Lucas Neill (2010) as the only players to lead Australia to a World Cup and he said that was both honored and excited to be given the prestigious job.
“To be handed the responsibility of captaining my country at the World Cup is humbling, yet incredibly exciting,” Jedinak said.
“Just pulling the Socceroo shirt on fills me with pride but to be leading out my country and these players at the World Cup on behalf of all Australians is special.
“It is an honour to be named captain but it is also a huge responsibility and I look forward to providing leadership for the team along with Tim (Cahill) and Mark (Bresciano) as we take on some of the biggest nations in world football.”
Australia remain outsiders in 2014 FIFA World Cup betting markets and are available at a quote of $501 at Ladbrokes Australia, while Jedinak is available at odds of $21 to be the leading goal scorer for Australia in the tournament.