Australia coach Holger Osieck believes forward Harry Kewell could leave a lasting legacy for the national team if he returns to the A-League to nurture the next generation of young talent.
The 33-year-old is in talks with Melbourne Victory over a potential deal that would see the Socceroo end his career on home soil. It would be a massive coup for the A-League in terms of public interest and attendances, but Osieck said the biggest boost would be Kewell's influence on the next batch of international players.
"I would definitely welcome him," Osieck said. "If a player of his calibre would come back to Australia it would be extraordinary. I don't know how realistic it is but if it really happens then that is what the A-League needs - big names. In the shade of the big names, the young players can develop. I think it is the perfect combination."
Kewell is approaching the end of his career in professional football, but Osieck indicated the move would not harm his chances of national team selection. "Of course I approve," he said. "He is back in his homeland. He doesn't have to live in Turkey anymore and his wife doesn't have to hide at home or be bothered by anybody."
Stand-in skipper Brett Emerton - another big name to be linked with a return to Australia - said he had not been in touch with Kewell since the speculation began, but hinted that many of the Socceroos' older guard could well be coming home soon. The rumour was that if Blackburn were relegated from the Premier League last season, Emerton would return to Australia to play with Sydney FC, but their survival ensured that possibility remains at least 12 months away.
"I haven't spoken to Harry and to be honest, that's the first I've heard of Harry coming back, but if we can get players such as Harry back in the A-League then that's great for the game," Emerton said. "We're all coming to that stage of our career where it's a possibility in the next few years."
"I've made no secret in the past that I'd love to come back and finish my career in Australia. When the time will be right, I'm not sure yet. We'll have to wait and see."