It has been a dream six-month period for David Carney, with the Australia fullback collecting an Eredivisie title with FC Twente before earning a move to English Premier League outfit Blackpool. Best of all was the realisation of a boyhood dream by representing his country at the FIFA World Cup™.
Though traditionally a midfielder, Carney has featured consistently for both club and country in the backline in recent times and hardly put a foot wrong at South Africa 2010. The Sydneysider with the silky left-foot came into the line-up for veteran Scott Chipperfield, playing in the draw against Ghana and the 2-1 win over Serbia that left the Socceroos falling short of qualification for the knockout stage on goal difference.
At 26, Carney seems set to be a core player in Australia’s bid to reach Brazil 2014, and he is one of only two players to feature in all four matches to date under new coach Holger Osieck. Carney’s attacking forays will likely feature prominently in the Socceroos' gameplan in the coming years, with the winning goal against Paraguay in a recent international a classic example of his value in attack. For now, though, Carney's immediate focus, as he tells FIFA.com, is to play regularly for the Tangerines and to achieve continental glory with the Socceroos at January’s AFC Asian Cup.
FIFA.com: You made an interesting move in leaving the Dutch champions for a newly-promoted club in England. Was testing yourself in the Premier League a major reason behind your decision to move to England?
David Carney: The Premier League is the best in the world. When the opportunity came up, I think there would have been a few raised eyebrows as I was with a Champions League club, and we had a really good team at Twente. To go to the Premier League is something I would have regretted if I didn’t take up the opportunity.
Being an attack-minded player, was the style of Blackpool manager Ian Holloway also a consideration in your move?
Ian Holloway plays attacking football, he just goes for it. The front four all move around, they have free roles and it is great as a footballer to be able to play with that freedom. He also wants you to work really hard to win the ball back. He is a really good manager.
How did you view the Socceroos' campaign in South Africa?
I think it was good. We get asked a lot about it and some see positives and some see negatives. To lose 4-0 against Germany and then bounce back and draw against Ghana with ten men, and then win against Serbia - and they are both very good teams - just shows how far Australia has come. Years ago we could never have done that and in the last decade or so Australian football has come on in leaps and bounds.
Your personal performances in South Africa received praise. Did you feel at home at that level?
I have 30-odd caps now for Australia so it is not like I came into the World Cup and was thrown in at the deep end. I think I have already proved myself at that level. But you are a little bit nervous just because it is the World Cup. It was just getting past the nerves of the occasion but I feel I adapted alright and we were a bit unlucky in the end going out on goal difference.
Was the standard or style of play in South Africa similar to your club football experiences?
International football is always different to league football and any player will tell you that. International football is very technical and you have to know what you are doing because if you make one mistake you get punished. That is why international football is generally very tight and you don’t see many goals. You still have to be clever but you have to adapt to both styles.
How does that compare to your experiences in England?
You have to be fast and strong at Premier League level and it is more direct, but you have to be very good on the ball to survive. There are a lot of very good players at Blackpool, so it is going to be hard to get into the line-up especially as we are doing so well at the minute. But it is something that I love, and love to be a part of, and I’m really relishing the challenge coming up [becoming a first team regular].
Do you feel you have more growing to do as a footballer?
I think I can definitely improve. I have to play regularly and hopefully you will start to see the best of me soon.
You featured in the last AFC Asian Cup in 2007, which was your first international tournament. Is there some unfinished business after a disappointing exit for Australia at the quarter-final stage?
It was tough last time because of the heat factor but I think we have learned from that experience and we have to be prepared for that. It depends what type of team we have. Hopefully we will have the strongest team available. We have a good team, we have the experience behind us and hopefully we can have another good crack at it and win it this time.
Finally, how is the team adapting to new coach Holger Osieck and vice-versa?
It is still early days. I think he is adapting really well. He is still trying to figure out his best team and his best players. I think he wants to try everyone out at this stage and then he will have his ideas on his best team come the Asian Cup. So we all have to continue to work hard and hopefully impress him.