With its glorious weather, spectacular scenery, seemingly endless coastline and bustling cities, Australia has long been a magnet for folk seeking a better life. Some 70,000 people emigrate to the vast continent every year, swapping life at home for an adventure Down Under.
Despite that, the traffic is not all one-way. Take Robbie Kruse for example, who exchanged the sunshine and sand of his home country last summer for the distinctly more temperate climate of Germany. At the present time, Kruse is the only current Australian international plying his trade in the land of Bundesliga and bratwurst.
The player’s focus is firmly on helping German second division leaders Fortuna Dusseldorf regain their top-flight status after a 15-year absence. “I'm enjoying my time here in Dusseldorf, and we’re playing really well as a team. We're top of the table, and it's going fantastically well. I'm personally more and more settled here, and I have no complaints. It's all going very well at the moment. Obviously, I'm hoping we keep on winning and we finish the season exactly where we are right now," Kruse told FIFA.com.
World Ranking success with Osieck
The 23-year-old left A-League club Melbourne Victory for the Rhineland metropolis in July last year, and has made 11 appearances for Fortuna to date, although the player who names Spain star Fernando Torres as his idol has yet to open his account for the second-tier side.
“Bundesliga 2 is a very strong league, and it's extremely physical," commented Kruse. By comparison, the A-League is still in its infancy, but expanding in quality and scope all the time. “It's getting stronger and stronger, and attracting more and more attention. There may well come a time when the A-League reaches the same level as the European leagues," says Kruse.
Until then, the 23-year-old is keen to earn his spurs in a challenging overseas environment, as he seeks to realise his biggest dream of appearing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil. It cannot be a disadvantage that current Australia boss Holger Osieck is a German national. “I was thrilled when he called me up to the Australia squad, and I'm very grateful for that,” Kruse commented. “He's a wonderful coach, and he’s taken us into the world top 20. He’s really shaken things up since taking over. Our victory over Germany was pretty remarkable. I have to say it was cool.”
Marquee victory over Germany
The match in question was the Socceroos’ 2-1 victory over the three-time world champions in March last year, the Germans’ solitary defeat in 2011. “It rates as a real success for us. Obviously, the Germans were missing a few regulars, but it was still fantastic to beat one of the great footballing nations. The players were overjoyed, but we had plenty more great results last year. It was a very good year for us with only two defeats. And of course, it was a bit special for Mr. Osieck to beat his home country."
Kruse’s decision to switch to the German second tier was discussed with the 63-year-old coach beforehand, and took place with his full approval, the striker said. “He told me it was the right time to go to Europe, and the right club too. Dusseldorf is a terrific club with a glorious history. Obviously, I'm looking to impress him, so it was the right decision," the player reasoned.
The striker, a member of the Australia squad at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup, has won 14 senior caps so far and scored two goals for his country. He has appeared in all five of the Socceroos’ FIFA World Cup qualifiers to date. “Our first target was a place in the next round, and we’re there. The games we have coming up will certainly be harder, but I believe we have the quality to make it through and qualify for Brazil," Kruse told FIFA.com. Ahead of their final group fixture against Saudi Arabia in late February, a record of four victories and a defeat means the Australians are through to the fourth qualifying round in Asia with a game to spare.
The likeable young Aussie could yet enjoy a very good 2012, with the prospect of promotion to the Bundesliga with Dusseldorf and a decent run in the yellow and green of Australia en route to Brazil 2014. Kruse’s German adventure promises substantial benefits to the player, his club and his country alike.