Boyle looking for more glory with high-flying Socceroos

• Martin Boyle explains his journey from part-time football to Australian internationalist • Australia face Oman and Japan in crucial FIFA World Cup qualifiers • The Socceroos are on a 10-game winning streak Three-year-old Amelia Boyle’s wardrobe takes no sides; the bright yellow mini Australia kit and the more sober dark blue of Scotland both boast her name on the back.

Dad Martin, the Australia and Hibernian forward, and Mum Rachael, the Scotland and Hibernian midfielder, both have eyes on journeys they hope will lead all the way to the FIFA 2022 World Cup™ and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023™. Amelia has yet to declare an allegiance.

“I keep telling Rachael that she’s going to be a little Matilda,” said Boyle. “She, of course, has her marked for Scotland. Amelia is a Mummy’s girl so she’s always asking for the Scotland top but you can be pretty sure I’m working on that!”

DOHA, QATAR - SEPTEMBER 02: Martin Boyle of Australia and Wang Shenchao of China PR  battle for the ball  during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Australia and China PR at Khalifa International Stadium on September 02, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

There has been no such conflict for Boyle. The striker’s unorthodox passage to where he now finds himself came via driver delivery duties and part-time football with Montrose as a teenager to spearheading Australia’s drive to make it to a fifth successive FIFA World Cup.

The Socceroos are currently on a streak of ten straight wins – levelling a FIFA World Cup record in the process - that have put them in a commanding Group B position. Top of the section with two wins from two and eight games still to go, the double header against Oman in Doha on Thursday and Japan in Saitama on Tuesday could be significant in establishing a firm base to build their qualification ambitions.

How Boyle came to be pulling on the shirt was almost by chance.

“Three years ago Mark Milligan and Jamie MacLaren were at Hibs and Graham Arnold came to our training ground to see them,” said the 28-year-old. “It all started off as a bit of a joke really with the two guys telling him that my Dad, Graeme, was Australian. Then he asked if I wanted to go to a training camp in Dubai and see how I got on.

“There had been some chat about Scotland when Alex McLeish was manager but by the time he spoke to me I had already committed to going to that Dubai camp with Australia and I didn’t want to go back on my word. I have never looked back.”

Boyle stole the show from Tim Cahill on his first start for Australia, scoring two and setting up one in a 3-0 win over Lebanon, a game that was Cahill’s 108th and final cap for his country.

The former Everton midfielder had presented Boyle with a signed shirt in front of an assembled squad to welcome him into the fold, an acceptance that the striker has always felt despite the fact he’d never stepped foot in his father’s birthplace prior to his call-up.

“I hadn’t ever been to Australia before I played for them,” said Boyle. “I think it was a bit strange at first as I don’t think many of the guys had seen me play so it did feel a bit like a trial. But the manager put a lot of trust in me and it was amazing to make such an impact on my debut.

“I was never made to feel anything other than welcome by all the guys. I did have to slow down a bit when I was speaking as I am not sure anyone understood a word of what I was saying but they have all really accepted me and I think that is reflected in my performances. I feel completely at home.

“I am pleased with the goals (4) I have scored for Australia but the truth is I actually think I should have had a few more. It just means the world to me to go away and pull on the shirt and give my very best every time I am asked to play. If that is scoring goals or creating chances it doesn’t matter, it is just all about the team winning.”

DOHA, QATAR - SEPTEMBER 02: Martin Boyle of Australia celebrates with Aziz Behich, Trent Sainsbury, Ajdin Hrustic and Rhyan Grant  after scoring their team's second goal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Australia and China PR at Khalifa International Stadium on September 02, 2021 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images)

The opportunity to be part of an Australian World Cup squad is a thrilling prospect for the striker whose memories of the tournament are framed by some modern FIFA legends.

“It is astonishing to me now to be sitting here and talking about a World Cup,” he said. “It isn’t a position I ever thought I would be in – it is the pinnacle of anyone’s career. Even if you had said this to me just a few years back I would probably have laughed,” said Boyle. “It would be a great honour and it would amazing not just for me but for my family as well. We have made a good, solid start but there is still a long way to go.

“I think the World Cup in 2002 is the earliest memory I have of the tournament – I loved Ronaldo and Ronaldhino and I loved that Brazil side. I was at primary school and it the first tournament I really remember watching and looking forward to all the games, collecting the stickers and charting the groups. To be at the stage of my career where it is a realistic ambition is mind-blowing.”