Back for Moore

AFW catches up with Craig Moore about once again donning the green and gold jersey

After a short retirement from international football, CRAIG MOORE is match fit and ready to stand up for Australia once again

Having made yourself available again for Socceroos selection, were you expecting to be picked in the provisional squad for the October 15 match against Qatar? It-s a very strange one. After [Queensland] Roar-s game against Newcastle, I spoke to Pim Verbeek and I got the impression I wasn-t going to be involved. He said to me that the team had done well in the last couple of games, and he didn-t feel that there was any need to change things, and I agreed. But I was an option if he needed me. He knows what he-s going to get if I-m given an opportunity. I didn-t, and still don-t, want to unsettle things, but whether it-s club football or international football, pressure for positions is always healthy. It brings out the best in everybody.

Did you realise how much you would miss international football once you made the decision to end your Socceroos career after Australia-s 3-0 win over Qatar in February? I didn-t think I-d miss it as much as I have. My reasons for retiring from international football included the lack of games I-d be playing at club level because we-ve just got such a long off-season in Australia. But once the season started up again, I was match-fit and felt strong, and after watching the European championships, I realised that I wasn-t ready to say goodbye. They-re such big games. To play for the national team is a huge honour and I really do hope that I get back into the side. I-m really excited about this game. It-s great that it-s being played on my home ground in Brisbane. I-d love to be involved, but whether I am or not, that-s not up to me. The lads have done well without me.

How does your current form compare with your performances during your time in the UK? I think since I-ve come back home, I-ve been fairly consistent. People might say that in certain games, like Queensland-s recent one against Melbourne, that I stood out, but I don-t think I was any different in that game compared to what I-ve been like since I-ve been back. Obviously, with national team selection on the agenda, the media tends to jump on the good performances a little bit, but since I-ve been back in Australia, I-ve been really happy with the way I-ve played. I feel I-ve definitely offered something.

Was the fact that you completed a full pre-season with the Roar crucial to you wanting to re-ignite your Socceroos career? The pre-season preparation was a huge factor. Last year when I came back I was in (Roar teammate) Charlie Miller-s position, in that I was a late arrival in the pre-season. It wasn-t until six or seven games into our campaign that I felt I was on top of things. This time, I did the same as everybody else for the full three months before the season started and as a consequence, I feel really good. The workload, as far as the amount of games that are played, makes a huge difference to someone like myself.

But in saying that, with an expanded Hyundai A-League competition starting next season, will more club games lead to more Australian-based players pushing for Socceroos selection? We don-t want 50 or 60 games like they do in Europe, but it would be good to try to get closer to that, so we have a season that maybe goes for eight to nine months. Then there-s not such a long time out of the game between seasons. When that happens, that will give Australian-based players a huge opportunity to not only get selected in Socceroos squads, but also play in matches.

Are you looking forward to catching up with Australia-s Europe-based stars in camp this week? It will be great. That camaraderie was, and always will be, a big part of our squad. We work hard and we enjoy each other-s company, and that makes for a really good team atmosphere.