When Harry met Mehmet

When Mehmet Durakovic first met a 17-year-old Harry Kewell playing for the Socceroos in Chile in 1996, he couldn't help be impressed by the player who would become Australian football's first wunderkind.

When Mehmet Durakovic first met a 17-year-old Harry Kewell playing for the Socceroos in Chile in 1996, he couldn't help be impressed by the player who would become Australian football's first wunderkind.

Now 15 years later, Durakovic is hoping Kewell will help him kick-start his managerial career with the now 32-year-old the key plank of the Victory coach's debut season.

Durakovic couldn't help but smile when recounting the phone call he received from Kewell on Friday night to tell him that the former Leeds, Liverpool and Galtasaray star had put pen to paper with Victory.

The protracted negotiations over Kewell's contract having being completed, Durakovic will waste no time ensuring his new marquee man will be ready to roll in the first game of the season against Sydney FC on October 8.

"Harry is a true professional. I've known Harry all of (his professional) life and if there is one thing Harry always looks after it is his body," he said.

"I've got no doubts on the 8th of October, our first game, Harry will be there."

"We've got a plan in place with our strength and conditioning coach he is doing at the moment. He should be here the first week of September."

When Kewell arrived on the national scene in 1996, Durakovic had already established himself as one of the most respected Socceroos.

But he was quick to realise that the two talented attackers in that side which lost 3-0 to Chile in Antofagasta - Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell - would become the stars of the new generation.

While Viduka's credentials were well known, having emerged from the NSL, Kewell was somewhat more of a mystery.

"He was just a young 17-year-old kid who the rest of the Socceroos hadn't even really heard of. He stepped out at 17 years of age playing against Chile in Antofagasta. He was man of the match. That sums up Harry. Harry is a professional and we really can't wait to have him here," Durakovic said.

Coaches and players alike have proclaimed Kewell's special qualities ever since and that is why Victory worked so hard to ensure he would be part of the new-look team this season.

"He's one of the greatest footballers we (Australia) have ever had and it's an honour to have him on board," Durakovic said.

But exactly where does Kewell fit into a Victory squad which is already rich with attacking talent?

Durakovic described the selection headaches caused by his striking depth as a great problem to have, and sees Kewell filling a role in the hole behind a front two rather than as a marksman.

"Harry has played in a few different positions and we are all rapt to have him on board. I honestly see Harry playing behind the striker. In my chat with him, he is confident that wherever I choose for him to play, he'll do a fantastic job," the coach said.

But the profile of the signing, described as the most significant in Australian sports history by chairman Anthony Di Pietro, won't influence Durakovic's selections.

"Harry will be treated like everybody else. We are a family, and we want to build a football culture in our club and there is some fantastic footballers in our team," he said.

"Everybody will get a fair share of game time and if they really play well, they will get a game the following week."

The reunion between two of the most influential men in Australian football over the past two decades will be one of the great stories of the 2011-12 Hyundai A-League season.