Harry Kewell wants to prove he has been unfairly tagged as a crock as he embarks on life with Melbourne Victory. 'Harry-fest' rolled on in Melbourne today with another media throng turning up to watch the A-League's highest-profile signing participate in his first training session with his new team-mates.
After training alongside fellow footballers for the first time since May, Kewell fronted the media and felt the need to set the record straight over the perception he is injury-prone and a risk to Victory's considerable investment in him.
He said: "A lot of people brand me as this player that has been injured. Ok, I had three seasons at Liverpool where I was injured, [but] not many people realise that I played 42 games and that's more than a lot of players all over the world.
"Even before that I played 35 games. I've been putting my fair share of games into seasons, it's just that when I do miss a game, it kind of becomes public knowledge and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon."
Kewell accepts that as a high-profile player the scrutiny over his fitness comes with the territory, but has every faith in can be an ever present.
"I've been working personally for eight weeks, and have been in contact with Victory for three weeks and working with their programs," the 32-year-old added. "I'm feeling good - good enough to go out there and play football and start participating in games."
The former Leeds United and Galatasaray attacker's confidence in his body is strengthened by the quality of the fitness, strength and conditioning facilities and talent the Victory have at their disposal.
"The bonus thing about coming to Australia is that the medical system here is perfect," he said. "That was one of the main reasons for coming here. I've seen the set-up here and it's probably the best I've seen all over the world."
Kewell, who played at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010, bristled at suggestions he would not be fit enough to play in Australia's FIFA World Cup™ qualifier next month. He is keen to make every attempt to show Holger Osieck he will be ready if needed for the game against Oman in Sydney on 11 October, just three days after his proposed debut in the A-League.
Kewell is also wary of not pushing himself too hard in a bid to reach his physical peak as quickly as possible. "I'm always mindful of that, it's probably my biggest downfall, I always like to push myself and keep going and try to get the best out of myself," he said.
Kewell is expected to play his first trial match against Adelaide United on Friday 23 September at Hindmarsh Stadium. Assistant coach Kevin Muscat believes Kewell's current physical condition is excellent and he should make good progress over the next few weeks.
"I had no doubt he would turn up here in immaculate condition and he's not disappointed me," he said. "As you can see this morning, 48 hours after a flight he was running around trouble-free. We're very excited about the season coming up."