From Dublin to Down Under: How Viduka and Kewell set Andy Keogh on path to Glory
If Perth Glory striker Andy Keogh helps fire his side to the Hyundai A-League title this season, the Western Australia club’s fans will owe a debt of gratitude to Aussie legends Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.
With 13 goals to his credit so far, Keogh is already enjoying his most prolific league campaign to date, surpassing the 12 he netted for Glory in the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons.
Alongside the likes of Chris Ikonomidis (8) and Diego Castro (6), the Irish striker has helped fire Glory to the top of the ladder, with Tony Popovic’s side boasting a league-high 47 goals.
The well-travelled 32-year-old – Keogh has turned out for 10 clubs in four countries during his 16-year career – began at English club Leeds United in 2003, which at the time was something of a ‘little Australia’.
“Harry Kewell, [Mark] Viduka, Jacob Burns, Danny Milosevic, Jamie McMaster, Shane Cansdell-Sherriff … there were loads of Australians there,” Keogh told www.a-league.com.au.
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Two of the Aussie expats, in particular, stood out for the teenage Keogh.
“Kewell was so dynamic, explosive,” Keogh said. “He had you on the edge of your seat the whole game. When he was at Leeds he was the best player there by far.”
But while the mercurial Kewell may have been the star turn, it is another Australia international that the defenders of the Hyundai A-League can thank the next time they find themselves bamboozled by Keogh’s movement and technique.
“Viduka was the epitome of hold-up play, of how to roll defenders, to use your body [and] how to score goals,” said the man who moved across the Irish Sea from his home in Dublin to join Leeds as a youngster.
“Mark Viduka was the nicest man I met in football. He always had time for the young guys, always went out of his way to talk to us and to make sure we were OK – not just about football but about life. He knew how hard it was moving away [from home].”
Anyone who has watched the incisive Republic of Ireland international front-man go about his goalscoring business would be entitled to think he had been born to grace the XI-a-side game.
But it was football of a different flavour that first looked likely to set Keogh on the path to professional sport.
“I mixed rugby and football up until I was 14, I had the option to play for the Irish Rugby Schools,” he said. “But the glitz and glamour of the Premier League just caught my eye too much. I decided on football and I went from there.
“I got scouted and went to a lot of different clubs in the UK – Man United, Blackburn, Leeds.
“It came down to a decision at the family table as to which club I would choose as I had lots of offers. I chose Leeds United, who were vying for the Premier League title and playing Champions League football at the time.”
Leeds’ time at the top table was coming to an end, though, and with the club beset by financial problems Keogh was twice loaned out before signing permanently for Scunthorpe United in February 2005, helping them to promotion from League Two that season.
Two years later he joined then-sleeping giant Wolverhampton Wanderers, helping the club to climb into the Premier League for the second time and then finding the net in a 1-0 win away at Wigan Athletic to record the club’s first away victory in the Premier League, and the first in the top flight of English football since 1984.
“It was a lifelong ambition to play and score in the Premier League,” he said. “So to do it was very satisfying.”
Several more loan spells followed for a player who has amassed 32 caps for Ireland, before a chance conversation led him to an unexpected move across the world in May 2014.
“My uncle, who lives in Australia, was speaking to the CEO of Perth Glory, randomly, and he mentioned that I was his nephew,” recalled Keogh. “[It was] just after I rejected a new contract at Millwall.
Within a week, Perth Glory contacted him again, got my agent’s details and sent me an offer.
"I have family here and I'd always wanted to live in Australia. So it was something to think about, and I went for it."
As Glory stand on the brink of their first Hyundai A-League silverware, thanks in no small part to the goals of their Irish import, they will be glad he did.
Watch our exclusive interview with Andy Keogh on Wednesday evening. Click here for details.