A long-serving and integral member of the Australia line-up, Brett Emerton is once again set to be a vital cog as the Socceroos aim to make their mark at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Now 31, Emerton’s tireless work-rate and aggressive running on the flanks seemed to have only improved with age.
Emerton has displayed his versatility both in domestic football, for Blackburn Rovers, and for his country, featuring at times in central midfield, or as a right full-back or right midfielder. After 12 years in the national team, Emerton is currently Australia’s most capped outfield player and he will shortly be eyeing the national record of 87. Sure to be prominent in Pim Verbeek’s plans over the coming month, Emerton tells FIFA.com how he is feeling and how the Socceroos are shaping up heading into South Africa, four years on from their breakthrough showing at Germany 2006.
FIFA.com: Are you feeling fit and fresh following the rigours of a long English season?
Brett Emerton: I am feeling OK. Obviously very excited and looking forward to the World Cup, so the sooner it comes around the better really.
You have rarely been injured in your career but you missed a large chunk of 2009 with a serious knee injury. Are you fully recovered from that and has the time off helped in any way?
As far as fitness is concerned, I am feeling very good at the moment. I picked up a couple of minor injuries at the end of the season which kept me out of a few games, but this has given me the opportunity to freshen up a little bit and make sure I am ready and raring to go come the first game against Germany.
Talent wise we have a good blend of youth and experience.
How is the team shaping up for South Africa 2010?
I think its looking good. From what I have seen in camp and in training the boys are physically in good condition and everyone is excited about playing in a World Cup. Talent wise we have a good blend of youth and experience and we have the opportunity to go a long way in this World Cup.
Does it feel different for you heading into this FIFA World Cup compared to four years ago when the entire squad was experiencing something completely new?
It is different in the way that a lot of us boys have been there and done it before and know what to expect and know what hard work needs to be done in order to achieve a good result over. Hopefully some of the more experienced players are using that to rub off on the younger boys and hopefully, if we all put in the hard work together we can achieve great things.
Has the team specifically set goals or targets?
No particular goals, obviously we are all out together, and we don’t want to let each other down by not working hard and not doing the right things off the pitch as well, such as nutrition and recovery strategies, We are all in together and will do everything we can to ensure that each and every one of us is in the best shape of our lives.
Aside from Mark Schwarzer, you are the squad’s most-capped player, and in a year or two could record more appearances for Australia than other player. Is that something you have thought about?
It is something that has been with me for the last 12 months or so, maybe even a bit longer, being Australia’s most capped player. Schwartzy (Mark Schwarzer) has caught up with me in the last 12 months because I have missed a few games. It is obviously something that would be nice if I finished my career as Australia’s most capped player. It is not something I aspire to, if it happens then great, but if not I just want to represent my country as many times as possible and that is good enough for me.
There have been many changes within Australian football since your career started. How have you seen the game grow and change?
As far as the A-League is concerned, it is hard for me to comment because living abroad you do not get to see too much of the football being played in Australia. But as far as the national team set-up is concerned, the changes have been massive since I first stepped into the national team. The set-up we have is very professional and we couldn’t ask for anything more. We are definitely moving in the right direction.