New Adelaide United signing James Holland still harbours Caltex Socceroos ambitions but also hopes he can return to European club football in the future.
On Wednesday, Holland, 27, officially signed a two-year deal with the reigning Hyundai A-League champions after last playing in Germany for relegated Bundesliga 2 club MSV Duisburg.
The new Red spoke to the media today (Wed) about why he came home eight years after leaving Australia.
“To be perfectly honest, I was looking to stay in Europe, and that was my goal. And it got to the situation where the options put in front of me were not what I was looking for,” he told reporters.
“And I still have ambitions to do well and get back into the Socceroos. So I saw this next step in my career as an important one as it [a two-year deal] would lead me into the next World Cup.”
The defensive midfielder, capped 15 times for Australia, was part of the Caltex Socceroo squad for the Brazil World Cup in 2014, but since then has been on the fringes of Ange Postecoglou’s squads.
He admitted he hadn’t spoken with Postecoglou about the move but he had been in contact with Gui Amor, Reds coach.
“Obviously seeing the success Adelaide has had over the last few years and also producing players that have done well – especially in my position – who have kicked on and done well that was a big influence.”
To that point, this week former Red James Jeggo of Sturm Graz was selected for the Socceroos in the same position as Holland.
This has underlined the options Postecoglou has aside from captain Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan and the challenge Holland has of returning to the national team in his preferred holding role.
Holland was one of the youngest ever A-League players to debut when picked for Newcastle Jets back in 2007 as a teenage prodigy.
And it was a Jets connection that helped him decide on the Reds as his choice of club in Australia.
“I’ve got some friends here. I spoke to Tarek [Elrich, a former Jets teammate] about the environment and the coaches and it seems that it’s an environment that can push me each day to become a better footballer.
“He spoke really highly of the coach [Amor] and the philosophy of the coach.”
Holland added his base fitness was “good” but conceded he needed match fitness ahead of the season opener away to his former club Newcastle on October 9.
The new signing, who said the six role was where he felt most comfortable, said he has been impressed watching from afar by the growth in professionalism since he last played in the A-League.
“The A-League has definitely grown [since I left]. On the field the quality has gotten better but I think the clubs are much more stable and much more healthy.
“Adelaide have their own training facilities. I don’t think any club had that back when I was playing here [in Australia]. The clubs are slowly bringing everything together.”