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How Ange used the legacy of Phillip Hughes to inspire Socceroos

Soccer

As the Socceroos prepare to relaunch their stuttering World Cup qualification campaign, goalkeeper Mat Ryan has lifted the veil on the unlikely source of inspiration behind Australia’s best performance of the last year.

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Ange Postecoglou’s side earned a 1-1 draw against world No.4-ranked Chile at the Confederations Cup in June – a match which, on the balance of play, Australia might have pinched.

It wasn’t to be for the Socceroos, who left Russia after failing to pick up a victory, but did so with pride given their combative and dynamic showing.

Ryan told new website PlayersVoice that Postecoglou, in his pre-match address, touched on the legacy of beloved cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died after being struck on the field of play in 2014.

“The message from Ange before a game against a big team like Chile … goes something like this: ‘Life is unpredictable, so when you go out to play this game, play it like it’s going to be your last chance to ever play again,” he wrote.

“And if it is your last chance how would you want this game to be remembered in terms of your performance?

“Do you want it to be remembered as you going out there and going through the motions, or do you want to go out there and knock off one of the biggest football countries in the world?’

“He says how Phillip would never have thought, walking out on to the SCG that day, that it could be his last ever moment playing the sport he loves, even taking a breath of air.

“It’s obviously an extreme example, but you never know what’s going to happen on or off the pitch. Seize the opportunity while you have it.

“We almost did that against Chile. We played really well and got a draw and those are the sort of performances Ange drives us hard to achieve.”

Coach Ange Postecoglou during a Socceroos’ training session in Melbourne. Photo: Mal Fairclough / AAP

Ryan will return to action for the Socceroos next month in a home-and-away play-off with Syria.

Australia finished third in their World Cup qualification group, and now must beat Syria over two legs – and then a North or Central American opponent – to reach the World Cup.

The 25-year-old Brighton gloveman said it was the first moment he contemplated missing the 2018 tournament.

“I wouldn’t be being honest with you if I said my mind didn’t momentarily consider the prospect of not qualifying for the World Cup,” he said.

“That thought was quickly replaced with determination. We are four games away from the World Cup. I believe this group can do it.

“Never, ever write off the Socceroos.”

-AAP

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