It was at Coffs Harbour four years ago that the unheralded Australian striker Archie Thompson set a new world record. A total of 13 goals from the striker proved the pivot for a FIFA World Cup record win for Australia's Socceroos over American Samoa in a qualifying match for the 2002 finals in Japan and Korea. The final score of 31-0 on April 11, 2001 in the resort town in New South Wales is unlikely to be beaten. Thompson's record, too, is likely to stand for a very long time, although the 26-year-old Australian would probably like to see it gone sooner rather than later.

The record has become something of a curse for the Belgian-based player, who is tired of having to answer questions about the goal spree or live up to unrealistic expectation.

"People don't talk about it all the time now - thank God, I am quite happy not to. When I got to Belgium everyone was talking about it and there was a bit of a frenzy with the fans and the media.

"They were all expecting me to score half-a-dozen goals every time I went out on to the pitch. They didn't really understand how poor the competition was, they didn't know or maybe didn't believe that there could be such weak opposition," says the softly-spoken Thompson.

"It's a good achievement for me, I suppose - I have got a page in the Guinness Book of Records and an entry in the World Cup history books. And I'll be able to talk to my kids about it someday. But it was a bit of a joke and has probably caused me as much embarrassment and difficulty in a way," said Thompson.

His move to Lierse in Belgium three months after setting his FIFA World Cup record brought the potential of proper recognition of his talents, but Thompson has had to battle with injury too.

Recently, he received a welcomed call-up back into the Australian team, who play in the FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany in June. His appearance as a second-half substitute in the international against South Africa in Durban on 9 February marked only his ninth cap for his country, yet he has scored 17 goals. It is a remarkable statistic that no other international player can boast of.

"It's always a pleasure to be involved with the team, to be part of the national squad set-up. I was really looking forward to the opportunity." Thompson has netted eight times this season for his Belgian club Lierse but is to leave at the end of the season.

He will return home to join Melbourne Victory when the Belgian season finishes in May. He is one of the new stars for the new league in Australia and sees it as a wonderful opportunity to participate in a ground-breaking project.

"It was a difficult decision to leave Belgium but it is more personal than career-orientated, because my wife is due to give birth to our second child in August and we want to be at home to be surrounded by family. "I think there is a lot of potential for the new A-League and I'm looking forward to going home and being part of the hype around the new league. Melbourne offered me a marquee position and I see it as good exposure for me. It is a chance to put my name out there. I really hope it takes off," says Thompson.