THE 2014 World Cup was the first major tournament I experienced as a Huddersfield Town supporter.
And while it was a great pleasure to wake up in the early hours here in Malaysia to root for another blue and white team, Argentina, I felt sad that Los Terriers weren’t represented among the 32 competitor nations.
For me personally, having a player from your club representing his country at a major international tournament is a prestige in and of itself.
Fast forward four years, and that dream is on the brink of becoming a reality, thanks to a bald Aussie genius who made his way from Melbourne to Huddersfield in the summer of 2016.
Aaron Mooy was initially signed by Manchester City, before being loaned to David Wagner’s team.
The technically gifted and attack minded player turned out to be the crucial piece in Wagner’s jigsaw.
In contrast to his fellow countryman and Town player, Jason Davidson, Mooy ingratiated himself to the Town faithful with his cool, calm, and humble demeanour, preferring to do his talking on the field.
His tremendous work ethic and passing reminded me of Andres Iniesta, and his 25-yard strike against Leeds United at Elland Road cemented his status as an instant legend.
With Australia, Mooy played an important role in their wins over the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Defeat against Japan in August, however, dented their chance of an automatic route to Russia.
In their last group match against a resilient Thailand, a curling cross from Mooy found Tom Juric, who broke the deadlock in the 69th minute.
Australia went on to win the match 2-1, setting the stage for a gruelling two-leg play-off against Syria.
The Syrian’s were no pushover, holding the Aussies to a 1-1 draw in the first-leg, which, for diplomatic and practical reasons, was held in Malaysia.
In the return leg in Sydney, the Australian coach, Ange, made the surprise decision to bench Mooy.
The Syrians took an early lead in the 5th minute, and in the 10th minute, Ange was forced to bring Mooy on after Brad Smith was injured.
From then on, the game began to move in Australia’s favour. It didn’t take long for the Socceroos to equalize courtesy of Tim Cahill.
The match went to extra-time and Mooy had a hand in the winning goal after he cleverly slotted the ball to Robbie Kruse, whose perfect cross found a leaping Cahill, who headed home to secure the victory.
A 0-0 draw and 3-1 win for Australia against Honduras in the InterContinental Play-Off was enough to send the Aussies to Russia. Mooy, then, looks almost certain to be the first Terrier in 56 years to take part in the world’s biggest single sporting event.
Based on his current form and his competition in central midfield, it would be impossible for new coach Bert van Marwijk to ignore him.
Mooy was also nominated for the 2017 Footballer of the Year at the Asian Football Confederation’s annual awards, narrowly missing on out the main prize to Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min.
Mooy’s Danish teammates Jonas Loessl and Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgenson are also in with a shout of making the World Cup, not to mention Belgium’s finest, Laurent Depoitre.
So, I’m hopeful that commentators at the World Cup will mention “Huddersfield Town” when our proud Terriers take to the field.
That itself will only enhance the club’s reputation and makes it even more attractive for future internationals.