Harry Kewell: My final hurrah
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It was a tag that has long-followed the talented footballer since his glory days at Leeds United but it became an official award in 2012.
“I have the trophy, sitting over there”, he says proudly, pointing it out in the room during our Skype chat. “It was an amazing honour to receive that award.”
Now, after a career that has seen him play at World Cups, European finals and for top Premier League clubs, Australia’s Best Ever Player has hung up his boots - finishing the playing part of his football chapter the way he always wanted to, in Australia.
“Every player always wants to have a fairytale finish”, he tells me, in an accent that sounds more Australian than I remember. “And as I kept going in my career, I just wanted to keep playing. I knew I was good enough.
“I still think I can do a job now.”
Still, Harry wanted to retire when it felt right, and as he explains, there was a definitive point when he knew it was time.
‘I was just receiving knocks, and pulling up with things that were very rare”, he explains.
“So I sat down with my wife (English actress Sheree Murphy) and we thought Melbourne Heart would be a great club to finish my career at.”
Sheree agrees. “He wanted to finish while he was still playing well.
"You never want to be one of those players where you just keep going and going and going and they have to practically lift you off the bench to get you on the field”, she laughs.
But even Australia’s Best Ever Player is the first to admit that his career was not without challenges – some, Sheree reveals, left Harry a broken man.
“It’s that kind of side of it that people don’t see”, she explains. “People think that you just take the money and you don’t care.
“He always did – he does – care. To the point where when he had these lows in his career, it took over our whole lives.
“It consumed us, at times”.
But Harry earned his ‘The Wizard of Oz’ nickname through winning more than his fair share of success on a journey that started in Sydney’s Western Suburbs at the age of just four years old.
“You know when you are young and people ask you what you want to do in your life?” he asks rhetorically. “Since I was a small boy, I always told them I wanted to be a footballer.
“And they would look at me weirdly and say, ’Okay. But what do you really want to do?
“In the end I got tired of people telling me I couldn’t do it so I started saying I wanted to be a policeman, just to get them off my back.”
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