ONE ON ONE: JACK­SON IRVINE

IN ONLY 17 GAMES, THE STAL­WART FOR HULL IN ENG­LAND’S CHAM­PI­ONSHIP HAS PROVEN HIS WORTH TO THE SOCCEROOS WITH HIS VER­SA­TIL­ITY AS A DE­FEN­SIVE LINCHPIN OR AT­TACK­ING THREAT IN THE MID­FIELD. AF­TER MISS­ING OUT ON THE 2014 BRAZIL WORLD CUP, EX­PECT THE 25-YEAR-OL

Inside Sport - - Contents - – Con Sta­mo­costas

What does the World Cup mean to you? It means every­thing. It’s what you dream of as a kid when you are run­ning around the back­yard ... pre­tend­ing to play in a World Cup. I was for­tu­nate enough to be there as a fan in Ger­many 2006 and the prospect of be­ing able to be there as a player a few years later is un­be­liev­ably ex­cit­ing. And – fin­gers crossed – I do enough to make sure I play in Rus­sia. How do you look back on the sea­son you had with Hull on a per­sonal level? It’s been great. Ob­vi­ously it’s def­i­nitely the high­est level I’ve played at, as a se­nior pro­fes­sional, and I’ve made my­self a main­stay in the team. I’ve played 37 games over the course of the sea­son, which has been awe­some. It’s been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing amongst in­ter­na­tional stan­dard play­ers on a do­mes­tic level for the first time and I feel like that’s im­proved my all-round game.

There are a num­ber of play­ers from ev­ery squad in the Cham­pi­onship who will be go­ing to the World Cup this year. It shows you just how com­pet­i­tive it is and ob­vi­ously it holds a lot of us in good stead go­ing into the tour­na­ment. How do you look back on the Socceroos’ qual­i­fi­ca­tion process? They are the best mo­ments of my Socceroos' ca­reer so far. I’ve had a few sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances here and there, but the United Arab Emi­rates game, where I scored my first in­ter­na­tional goal in only my sec­ond start, is the high­light of my 17 games for the Socceroos.

I had some tough games, es­pe­cially the one away in Ja­pan. Play­ing over there was un­be­liev­ably dif­fi­cult. There was also the first leg in Hon­duras and it was great be­ing in­volved in that at­mos­phere and bring­ing home that pos­i­tive re­sult to get us over the line. I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to play a sig­nif­i­cant role over the last two years. It’s been amaz­ing and now I get the op­por­tu­nity to try and put all that work into a tour­na­ment process at the World Cup. When you heard that Aus­tralia’s World Cup group op­po­nents were France, Peru and Nor­way what were your ini­tial thoughts? My first ever call-up was away in France in 2013 un­der Hol­ger Osieck, and with our first World Cup game be­ing against France, it’s very strange and very ex­cit­ing.

You’re play­ing against the nations that are all in the top-15 in the world, who have been per­form­ing so well in their con­fed­er­a­tions, so it’s in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing. In­ter­na­tional foot­ball now is such a good stan­dard. Ev­ery coun­try has in­di­vid­u­als who are ca­pa­ble of hurt­ing you and you just have to be pre­pared for those in­di­vid­u­als and deal with your own struc­tures and how you can cause prob­lems to the op­po­si­tion. How do you see your­self fit­ting into coach Bert van Mar­wijk’s plans? I see my­self as pretty ver­sa­tile in that mid­field area and hope­fully that is some­thing he sees as ap­peal­ing – that I can play in ei­ther of those po­si­tions. I’m sure he will have kept tabs on me do­mes­ti­cally and he would’ve seen that, at times, I have been play­ing fur­ther for­ward or deeper this sea­son. He’ll make a de­ci­sion on what my role will be in his struc­ture that will most ben­e­fit the team. Do you feel you can play reg­u­larly at the World Cup and be in­volved in some mo­ments for the Socceroos in Rus­sia? That why we want to be there. Ob­vi­ously, ev­ery­one wants to be in the 23-man squad, but ul­ti­mately you want to be there and play. You want to be there out on the pitch rep­re­sent­ing your coun­try and fam­ily and play­ing at the high­est level. That’s where you want to be, and you have to be­lieve in your­self that you can go out there and con­trib­ute some­thing and try to cre­ate a spe­cial mo­ment. That’s the dream and that’s what we’ll be there try­ing to achieve. What are your feel­ings about Aus­tralia get­ting past the group stage? It would rank up there with one of the great­est achieve­ments in Aus­tralian foot­ball; you’ve got to be­lieve we are ca­pa­ble. We’ve got in­di­vid­u­als of such high qual­ity that there is no rea­son we can’t hurt the teams we are up against and pull off some­thing spe­cial to get us out of the group.

It’s been a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing amongst in­ter­na­tional play­ers on a do­mes­tic level.

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