THE GOLDEN GEN­ER­A­TION’S WORLD CUP SWAN­SONG 2010

For so long the whip­ping boy for Soc­ceroos fans, Brett Hol­man was the star of the show in South Africa. He book­ended 2010’s World Cup cam­paign with Aus­tralia’s first and last goals, wrap­ping up a for­mi­da­ble shift with a clas­sic long-dis­tance screamer agai

Australian Four Four Two - - WORLD CUP 2010 -

QUAL­I­FI­CA­TION What are your mem­o­ries of the qual­i­fi­ca­tion process?

We did it re­ally well. It was a cou­ple of games be­fore the end that we qual­i­fied. And we didn’t even con­cede a goal. Pim Ver­beek had a cer­tain aware­ness of the Asian style, ob­vi­ously, be­cause he was in­volved with Guus Hid­dink and South Korea. You saw that he had the aware­ness of what to do, how to set up and stuff like that.

Tough­est mo­ment?

There was one game, I think it was in Bahrain, where it was a proper smash-and-grab. Mark Bres­ciano scored in the last minute. I think it was a long ball. It was an ab­so­lute steal. We were like, let’s quickly pack up be­fore this gets turned around, be­cause it was just a bad game from ev­ery­body and we ended up nick­ing it.

Did you ever think Aus­tralia wouldn’t make it?

No. Just with the team, the squad that we had, some play­ers went through that Ger­man World Cup and were so full of con­fi­dence. You could see that and feel that. There was no doubt­ing it at all that we were go­ing to make that World Cup.

What did it feel like in the mo­ment when qual­i­fi­ca­tion was in the bag?

We drew 0-0 with Qatar and in the dress­ing rooms af­ter­wards they had non-al­co­holic cham­pagne that we sprayed around, ob­vi­ously, be­cause it was in a Mid­dle East­ern coun­try. It wasn’t much of a game. I def­i­nitely re­mem­ber that.

PRE­PAR­ING FOR SOUTH AFRICA What was the vibe in the host coun­try?

It was full of en­ergy, full of life. Ev­ery­body was ex­cited. South Africa host­ing was a big thing. When we first ar­rived, we were warmly wel­comed. The set-up where we ended up do­ing our pre-train­ing camp was great, which was fan­tas­tic for us and ob­vi­ously credit to our or­gan­i­sa­tion. A great feel­ing when we got there.

How did the lo­cals take to Aus­tralia?

Per­fect. Es­pe­cially when we were walk­ing around the streets and the shop­ping malls, all the peo­ple were friendly. They ac­tu­ally en­joyed us walk­ing around, there was that el­e­ment of the se­cu­rity stuff in Jo­han­nes­burg but we saw noth­ing vi­o­lent or wor­thy of hav­ing the se­cu­rity there at all. They were just ex­cited they were see­ing all the dif­fer­ent na­tions walk­ing around.

IT WAS A DREAM COME TRUE – TOP OF THE MOUN­TAIN SORT OF STUFF FOR ME. IT WAS THE PIN­NA­CLE OF MY CA­REER.

How were the train­ing fa­cil­i­ties?

We were in the out­skirts of Jo’burg. The FFA ended up con­tribut­ing to a field there, ac­tu­ally build­ing a fa­cil­ity out there where we ended up train­ing. Af­ter­wards I think they gave it to a school or a com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tion. It was all top-notch as you’d ex­pect at a World Cup, and we stayed at a very nice lodge next to a game re­serve.

What was the mood of the team like?

Good. Ev­ery­body was rar­ing to go – ex­cited, but with the ex­pec­ta­tion of what the ma­jor­ity of the squad did in Ger­many, the ex­pec­ta­tions were high from those play­ers.

THE MATCHES What was it like hear­ing the an­them be­fore the first match?

I was just pretty much re­al­is­ing that while I wasn’t on the pitch start­ing, I’ve ac­com­plished a dream. If you think back, I re­mem­ber Aus­tralia ver­sus Iran with Terry Ven­ables and pretty much think­ing Aus­tralia’s never go­ing to get to a World Cup. And then to ac­tu­ally be there and play, that was amaz­ing.

Which was the tough­est match?

Ger­many, first-up. It was dis­ap­point­ing. You go down to 10 men and that’s what made it a lot more dif­fi­cult. Even with 11 men, they were dom­i­nant any­way. We learned a lot from that first game, es­pe­cially when we went down to 10 men against Ghana and you saw how well-struc­tured we were. We weren’t do­ing that against Ger­many – with 10 men, we were still try­ing to go and at­tack and nick a goal. Look­ing back, it should have just been dam­age con­trol.

Your best mo­ment on the field?

The goal against Ser­bia was ob­vi­ously good but the first one against Ghana was the best – just be­cause it was the first time I was start­ing, and it was the first goal for Aus­tralia at that World Cup.

And the worst?

Not qual­i­fy­ing for the sec­ond round. Just look­ing back, know­ing that if things went a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, a lit­tle bit our way, we had the team to ac­tu­ally progress. That comes down to Ger­many, they’re a big side. No mat­ter who you play at that level, you go down to 10 men in two games and you’re mak­ing it hard for your­self no mat­ter who you are.

Your best mo­ment off the field?

When my wife told me she was preg­nant with our first child. The first time I saw her was be­fore the first game. She had just found out. Trav­el­ling to Jo­han­nes­burg, she was nice and sick on the flight.

And the worst?

Pack­ing up after the last game, know­ing we weren’t go­ing to the sec­ond round. We were stay­ing at an amaz­ing re­sort where we had our own lit­tle cab­ins and huts and say­ing good­bye to that, and to the peo­ple who worked there, you got to know them on a daily ba­sis. That wasn’t nice.

What about the fun­ni­est mo­ment?

There was a cou­ple. Han Berger got his gui­tar out at one point and did a sing-song. None of the boys re­ally knew the song, no-one could get in­volved. No­body even knew he could play.

What’s your last­ing mem­ory of the 2010 World Cup?

The vu­vuze­las still are ring­ing in my ear. But it was a dream come true – top of the moun­tain sort of stuff for me. It was the pin­na­cle of my ca­reer.

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