Brandon Borrello shaping as a key figure for Australia’s Qatar 2022 campaign
Attacker featuring for surprise Bundesliga contenders Freiburg
Inspired by his time at Kaiserslautern and the city’s Socceroos connection
Brandon Borrello has a habit of making an early impression. Borrello scored for Brisbane Roar as a substitute before having made his A-League starting debut, netted an Australian record four goals in one of his first AFC Champions League matches, and made an immediate splash as a substitute for Kaiserslautern in 2. Bundesliga a couple of years back.
Now he hopes to do likewise as one of the fresh faces of Graham Arnold’s reinvented Australia, who are seeking to earn qualification for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Having made a debut starting appearance in the side’s opening Qatar 2022 qualifier, the 24-year-old is shaping as a key figure for the ongoing World Cup cycle and beyond.
A wide attacker with strength and a fondness for direct running at defenders, Borrello’s style has more than a passing resemblance to robust Socceroo mainstay Mathew Leckie. And Borrello is even following a similar path to Bundesliga star Leckie, moving directly from the A-League to Germany, firstly with Kaiserslautern, and now with high-flying Freiburg.
Borrello revealed that Kaiserslautern provided an unlikely added dose of impetus to chase his World Cup dream. The small Rhineland-Palatinate city is renowned in Germany as a home to its overachieving football club – four-time champions 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
In Australia, however, the name Kaiserslautern conjures sunlit images of the Socceroos playing out two of the most memorable matches in their 97-year history at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The venue was the aptly-named Fritz Walter Stadion which honoured local-born hero, Germany’s 1954 World Cup-winning captain and inspiration behind the “Miracle of Bern”.
Socceroos fans look back fondly on the “Miracle of Kaiserslautern” when Australia came from a goal down with ten minutes remaining to win 3-1 over Japan in their first World Cup match for 32 years. Two weeks later Australia were eliminated in another hugely-memorable contest by a ten-man Italy, with the eventual world champions seconds from a demanding 30 minutes of extra-time against a supremely-fit side, when they conjured a still much-discussed winner.
Borrello was only in primary school at the time, watching the matches in the dead of night with his family. But fast forward to 2017, and it didn’t take Borrello long to learn that the Socceroos’ visit to Kaiserslautern in 2006 left indelible memories.
“There is a park just near the stadium with statues of footballers and every jersey that played there,” Borrello told FIFA.com. “To see that hits home even more what a great thing this [national team] is to be a part of.
“I can remember watching all the  matches on TV, and now just over ten years later I’ve had the chance to play for a club that uses that stadium, so that is a really nice thing.
“They still talk about how all the bars and clubs didn’t have any beer left when the Aussies came to town!”
Now the Adelaide-raised Borrello is part of Australia’s push for an unprecedented fifth successive World Cup qualification. And Borrello says he is intently focussed on turning the improbable childhood dream of playing at a World Cup into reality.
“Since I was born, we [my family] have watched every Socceroos match. As a little boy you sit down and think ‘I can’t wait to be involved in a tournament such as this’.
“It is very inspiring at the time to make you want to play in World Cups and on big stages. To do it now with the Socceroos would be a dream come true.”
Only six players that took the field at Russia 2018 featured in Australia’s squad for last month’s qualifiers. The AFC Group B leaders will resume their Qatar 2022 charge on Thursday against Jordan in Amman, an opponent that has proved hugely difficult for Australia in recent years.
Borrello believes the new-look Socceroos not only have a strong team bond, but have versatility and athleticism across the squad.
“Competition is fierce but the team mentality and team morale is great,” he said. “When I first came in I thought I would be nervous, but I fitted in well.
“We have so many options in all the front positions, in midfield and defence. Our style of football really fits the kind of players we have. We are young and fit, and very hungry.”