Growing up, all Bradford City defender James Meredith wanted to do was play for South Melbourne. Now he is being coached by Hellas legend Ange Postecoglou.
Meredith was the new face in the Socceroos’ squad for the World Cup qualifier against Jordan. The Victorian, who has been played in the UK for the past 11 years, has been in stellar form for his League One club.
Postecoglou remains a great of the former NSL giant after winning titles with South Melbourne both as a player and as a coach.
Meredith said it felt fantastic to get the call-up to play for Australia.
“It's something I've always aspired to doing and dreamt of doing,” the 27-year-old said.
“For then to be on the training pitch with the players, it's fantastic. The ones you look up to or you've seen on the telly over the years, through the Asian Cup or even the World Cup, it's a real delight for me and I'm really happy.”
Meredith suspected he was on the Socceroos’ radar – especially after a strong season last year when Bradford defeated Chelsea 4-2 – but after 11 years in the UK nothing was certain.
“I'd been in good form for quite a while, being in England for so long,” he said.
“They're more concentrating on bringing young players from home, from Australia, so I'm really happy to be given an opportunity.”
Meredith is close friends with Melbourne Victory midfielder, Leigh Broxham, and revealed he would like to play in the A-League one day.
“Growing up as a kid the only team I ever wanted to play for was South Melbourne,” he said.
“I'm very grateful and I feel blessed to be where I am now, that's still the thing I want to do.
“Obviously South Melbourne are in a different division but I'd like to play for one of the Melbourne teams certainly.
“My generation was different because it was almost when the A-League was just forming so there was a bit of uncertainty. I had to stay in England because it wasn't fully developed at that point, it was only when the A-League was starting.
“But I think the best path now is definitely to go through the A-League. It’s a good set-up, it’s very commercial. And if you do break through, and you can get that exposure, then the opportunities to move overseas and develop as a player or be part of the national team, they're perfect now.”
Meredith said he was delighted when good mate Broxham scored in last season’s A-League Grand Final.
“I'd love to play with Leigh,” Meredith said. “I haven't played with him for years and years and I was delighted when he scored that goal.
“He doesn't score many. I called him up straight away and I was really happy for him. It's good to see him flying the colours for Melbourne for so many years.”
Meredith has a fight on his hands to secure playing time at left back against Jordan with Jason Davidson and Aziz Behich also vying for the spot, but the defender is enjoying his first time in the Socceroo camp and adjusting to his new surroundings.
“It's a bit different training in the afternoons,” he said.
“(But) the lads and staff, everyone's been so helpful. The training is very good, everything's professional and spot on.
“It's exactly how the manager wants it, it's the most professional setup I've seen and been a part of.
“First of all I'll have to adjust to the way Ange plays and trains. All I can do is what I've always done and that's show a lot of desire. Get my head down and do the best I can.
“Aziz and Jason are very good players, both of them, especially Jason. I'll just do my normal day to day things and we'll see what happens.”