2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™

12 June - 13 July

2014 FIFA World Cup™

Socceroo Davidson grateful for Dutch education

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If there is one player in the Australia squad who knows just how dangerous the Dutch can be, it is Jason Davidson. The Socceroos left-back plays his club football for Eredivisie outfit Heracles and, as such, faces every week the kind of tricky, elusive players - several of whom are in the *Oranje *squad - for which the Netherlands has become famous.

Now, he will find himself up against the crème de la crème of Dutch talent as Australia attempt to salvage their Brazil 2014 campaign following an opening-match loss to Chile. And he believes that he is better equipped than ever to rise to the challenge because of the education the Eredivisie has provided.

"I think it's been great for me," he told FIFA. "Individually, as a defender, I've grown up a lot because they often use the 4-3-3 formation over there. As a left-back, I think that's one of the best systems to test yourself against because you're one-on-one against your opponent. And the wingers over in the Eredivisie are fantastic. I think that's why defensively I've become a lot stronger in the last year, because of the wingers I've been up against week in, week out.

My father never made it to a World Cup though and it's an in-house joke to have something over him, because he had a great career.

"Everyone in the world knows that [the Dutch] are fantastic players. I'm not so sure they're as good collectively, but they did well against Spain and proved that they're a dangerous side. They're deadly if given the chance to score. But I think if we make it a battle like we did against Chile and make sure that we run them into the ground, then hopefully we can take any chances that come our way. We also have to defend not just for periods of time in the game but actually defend for the full 90 minutes, because if you don't do that on this world stage, you get punished and you lose games."

Paternal advice
His experiences in the Netherlands may have been crucial to Davidson's development as a footballer, but they have not, he readily admits, been all-important. Of greater significance has been the guiding influence of his father, Alan, a celebrated former Australia international who was named in the greatest-ever Socceroo XI in 2012. Indeed, Davidson Snr has made the long journey to Brazil to watch his son compete in a tournament he never reached as a player.

"From a very, very young age, my dad tried to drum into me about hard work and discipline and to have good technique," Jason explained. "That's why I went overseas at a very young age because he wanted me to be in an environment where football was like a religion. I trained every day with him. Even after school, I remember coming home and just having a football around, playing until night time, Mum screaming to tell me to come inside for dinner. It was just football 24/7 when I was growing up and it was a fantastic childhood.

"My father never made it to a World Cup though and it's an in-house joke to have something over him, because he had a great career. He's a big name in Australia, so I'm happy that I have done something that he hasn't. But it's not a competition. He's a very proud father and he's very happy that I have accomplished that at a young age already. We had a family night the day after the game, so I saw my mum, my father and my brother. They were just very happy and proud. They really enjoyed it.

"My dad said that he thought I did well and that, because it's my first World Cup and being 22 years old, he was a bit surprised at how solidly he thought I performed. Obviously, you're playing against world-class players and we're in a tough group, so he thought that I did my job defensively and that, in the second half, I tried to get forward and put some crosses in as well."

That praise came, however, with a warning that Davidson's World Cup experience is only going to get tougher against a player for whom both father and son have the utmost respect: "He said the next game is another step up and that I'd be playing against one of the best players in the world in that position in [Arjen] Robben. I know I'll have to bring my A-game. I'm looking forward to it because that's why you play football, to challenge yourself against the best, and hopefully we can step up and do the job.

"As a young boy, my dream was to always play at a World Cup and to play for my country. I'm privileged and honoured to have been able to do that. Just the feeling of walking out into the stadium with 40,000 people and singing the national anthem... I had goosebumps. It's something that I will cherish forever."

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