The left-sided attacker burst onto the Australian football scene as a 17-year-old in 1996 and is arguably the most well-known Australian player of all-time. Mostly operates on the left side of midfield but he has also been used a striker. The technically gifted Kewell loves to take on defenders and provides the team with a genuine x-factor.
An extensive injury tally over the years has taken its toll on Kewell who has perhaps lost some acceleration off the mark. Now 31, he remains a key player for Australia not only for his on-field contribution but as a group leader with Kewell appointed captain by coach Pim Verbeek for several matches in Lucas Neill’s absence, including for the key FIFA World Cup™ qualifier against Asian champions Iraq. Kewell literally rising to the occasion by heading home the only goal of that match to secure an important 1-0 win en route to the second and final stage of qualification. Kewell scoring three goals during the qualification campaign across nine matches.
Club commitments and unavailability meant international appearances were relatively sparse early in his career and despite his pedigree Kewell played just 19 matches in his first ten years in the Socceroo shirt. However Kewell has rarely missed a match since the 2006 FIFA World Cup playing in the 2007 AFC Asian Cup and in numerous friendly matches.
Kewell has achieved much with the green and gold dating back to a goal in each leg of the France 1998 play-off against Iran from a then precocious teenager. An extra-time winner in the semi-final of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup was another milestone though injury forced Kewell to miss the 2000 Olympic Football Tournament in his hometown, plus the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup. An inspired performance in the famous play-off victory against Uruguay in 2005 was followed by Kewell scoring the equaliser against Croatia in the final group match at Germany 2006 which allowed Australia to reach the knockout stage for the first time. After playing in all three group matches Kewell missed the Round of 16 match against Italy with a foot ailment.
Hailing from western Sydney, Kewell landed a contract at Leeds United when just 16 and he quickly established himself in the first team, briefly as a left full-back, before taking the more advanced role for which he is best known. Kewell was part of a young Leeds side that also featured Australia striker Mark Viduka and which moved rapidly up the pecking order of English football culminating in an UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance in 2001.
A move to Liverpool followed in 2003 but after a good start to his Anfield career, Kewell was blighted by groin and ankle injuries curtailing his game time and effectiveness with the Reds. Though helping the side to a number of trophies Kewell moved outside England for the first time when joining Turkish giants Galatasaray in 2008.
A strong start in Istanbul reinvigorated Kewell and he enjoyed a prolific season despite a hernia injury. A similarly strong start to the most recent season in Turkey was once again halted by a lengthy injury absence, this time due to a groin problem. It remains to be seen whether the lack of game time leading into South Africa 2010 hinders Kewell’s output.