Brett Holman hopes he has silenced his detractors once and for all with his performances and two goals in the FIFA World Cup™ campaign.
The Socceroos went out of the tournament fighting and with their reputation enhanced after a pulsating 2-1 win over world number 15 Serbia at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Wednesday.
Holman, 26, finished as the Socceroos' unexpected leading scorer at the tournament with his goals against Ghana and Serbia and attracted rave reviews for his performances as an all-action midfielder. Fans have not always taken to Holman, but coach Pim Verbeek has consistently been an admirer of his selfless non-stop running and energy.
"You always get criticism from anybody and everybody," said Holman, who has played eight years in the Dutch league and is currently with AZ Alkmaar. "You always want to perform for everybody, but you are always going to get criticism now and then and you have to deal with it and prove them wrong.
"I have always given my best in every game I've played for Australia and it was lucky that I scored these goals in my last two games. I think I always belong, I feel part of the team and part of this group and the atmosphere was great and I always felt comfortable around the boys."
Verbeek leaves no doubt as to what he thinks of Holman and his importance to the Socceroos set-up. "I have always been a fan of Brett Holman. I always thought he was very important to the team," Verbeek said.
The effervescent Holman, who came on with Scott Chipperfield in the 66th minute, let fly with a wonderful long-range strike seven minutes later which left Serbian goalkeeper Vladimir Stojkovic flailing. "Normally, I would have passed it, but it was one of those things, especially with the ball in this World Cup," he said. "You can shoot from anywhere and it can go all over the place and lucky I connected alright and it hit the back of the net, so it was a good feeling."
Holman is expected to figure more prominently in the future Australian side, now in a transition phase with several long-term Socceroos stepping down from the international arena. "Now this is all over I will sit down and write down what sort of goals I will have over the next four years and we'll go from there," he said.
"I have mixed feelings. We gave a good performance and we beat a great Serbian side, it's unfortunate that we didn't qualify and that was the tough part. Trying to weigh it all up it's great to score two goals at the World Cup, but on the other hand I would have rather not have scored them and us gone through to the next round."