Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill close to returning to Australia with Hakoah

September 8, 2015

Dominic Bossi

Sports reporter

Australia return: Lucas Neill.

Australia return: Lucas Neill. Photo: Mark Kolbe

Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill may have finally ended his year-long hiatus from football and appears close to returning home to resume his playing career, but it is not with any club you would expect.
Having not played competitive football since leaving Watford in June 2014 and being overlooked for the last World Cup squad, Neill is edging towards returning to Australia having been deep in negotiations to sign with National Premier League NSW club Hakoah Sydney City.

After spending 10 years in the English Premier League as well as stints with Turkish giants Galatasaray and the in the UAE, the 96-time Socceroo could become a regular at the Hensley Athletics Field in Eastgardens next year.

Hakoah Sydney City are making the ambitious bid to sign 37-year-old Neill after earning the second of back-to-back promotions to the National Premier League NSW division 1 next season, one grade below the A-League.

With more than six months until the start of the next season, club president Michael Katz confirmed negotiations have taken place for Neill to make the extraordinary move and play in the state league. Neill has close ties with Hakoah coach Mark Robertson whom he has worked with at football coaching clinics in Australia.
Neill has been identified as a potential leader at the club whose roster is replete with talented youngsters.

In 2011, the board embarked on a five-year plan to reach the NSW Premier League 1 to restore the former giants of Australian football.

Katz denied that a potential signing would be made simply to attract interest of the public.

“Our focus has been on sustainability so if Lucas fits that then great, but we are not using this as an opportunity just to make a statement,” Katz said. “If it happens, it would be a reflection on Robbo [coach Mark Robertson] and his ability to attract talented players whether they’re juniors or seniors. That’s what he’s been able to do ever since he joined.”

The Hakoah squad boasts former Scotland international Gavin Rae.

“If [Neill] did come we would be looking at him to undertake the same kind of role as Gavin Rae. He captained at Glasgow Rangers, he played in a [Scottish] FA cup final. What he brought in terms of professionalism was immeasurable. He would probably be the most competitive player out there, he would want to win every game.”

Hakoah will be the only club from the smallest football association within the state to ever compete in the NSW Premier League next season and are eager to avoid the fate of most newly promoted teams: relegation within their first two seasons.

“As a club we are really honoured about the five-year project we have just achieved, it is something we will all look back at with a lot of pride. But, we are also really excited about the next five years ahead. As a club, in terms of administration we have to step things up to another level. We are a young board here at Hakoah but we’re very ambitious,” Katz said.


The Canberra Times

David Gallop praises Lucas Neill

Football Federation Australia (FFA) CEO David Gallop has today praised Lucas Neill’s contribution to the Socceroos’ qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

This follows the decision yesterday by Socceroo Head Coach Ange Postecoglou to inform the 36 year old Neill that he would not be selected in the preliminary 30-player FIFA World Cup squad to be announced next Wednesday.

“Lucas was an exceptional leader throughout the campaign for Brazil and deserves acclaim for his role as captain in Australia’s third consecutive qualification for the World Cup,” said Gallop.

“In particular, his performance in the crucial away game in Japan was outstanding. On behalf of the football community I thank him for his contribution and wish him well for the next phase of his career.”

Ange Postecoglou said the omission of Neill was a difficult decision to make.

“I had a conversation with Lucas regarding the World Cup squad and obviously before I announced the 30-man squad next week I thought it was important for me to speak to him directly,” said Postecoglou.

“I informed him that he hasn’t made the 30, from my perspective paying due respect to the fact that he’s been the captain for six years and the captain of the World Cup campaign so far.

“In the end I just had to make a decision not so much about the recent history but the last six months in terms of form and fitness. It was difficult, he’s worked damn hard to get himself ready and available; he’s shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup.”

Lucas Neill has played 96 internationals for the Socceroos, including a record 61 as captain. He played in all the Socceroos matches in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups.


Source : Football Federation Australia

Ange Postecoglou ends Lucas Neill’s World Cup dream

May 6, 2014 – 10:01PM

Sebastian Hassett

Football reporter

Thanks but no thanks: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will not be selecting Lucas Neill in his World Cup squad.

Thanks but no thanks: Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou will not be selecting Lucas Neill in his World Cup squad. Photo: Reuters

After months of debate about Lucas Neill’s future, Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou has officially ruled the former skipper out of next month’s World Cup.

Postecoglou made the decision on the weekend that the 36-year-old was not in contention to make his extended 30-man squad, which will be named next week for a


 camp in Gosford.

Neill was desperately trying to convince Postecoglou he was still worth his place in Brazil by picking up various short-term deals, playing with J-League side Omiya Ardija and English Championship clubs Watford and Doncaster Rovers all in the past year.

In happier times: Lucas Neill celebrates victory over Jordan in 2013 that took Australia to the brink of qualification for the 2015 World Cup.

In happier times: Lucas Neill celebrates victory over Jordan in 2013 that took Australia to the brink of qualification for the 2015 World Cup. Photo: Justin McManus

Despite his best efforts, Neill couldn’t convince the coach to change his mind after being left out of the squad for the match against Ecuador in March.

“It was difficult because he’s worked damn hard to try and make himself ready and available,” Postecoglou said on Tuesday. “He’s shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup.

“From my perspective, I had to make a decision and over the past six months, in terms of form and fitness, there just wasn’t enough evidence there for me that he’d be able to hold up in a World Cup.

“For somebody as decorated as him, it’s a tough decision to deny him going to a third World Cup. It’s a decision that weighed heavily on me. I wanted to make sure I was absolutely clear on the premise of my decision.”

The coach hinted that Neill’s feverish swapping of clubs had perhaps not aided his cause.

“He was probably a bit unlucky, in terms of the moves he made,” Postecoglou said. “Certainly, from January onwards, if he’d had four months of football under his belt, I guess a different decision would have been made.

“But it’s not easy. He’s shown outstanding determination and it’s a credit to him. You can see why he’s played for his country many times and he’s a leader. He’s certainly gone down fighting, if you want to put it in that terminology.”

Postecoglou called Neill directly and admitted the veteran did not take the news overly well.

“Before the 30-man squad was announced I thought it was important to speak to him directly and inform him that he wouldn’t make the 30,” he said.

“From my perspective, it’s about paying him the respect of being captain for six years and captain of the World Cup campaign so far. It was right I told him personally.

“From his perspective, he was very disappointed, but acknowledged it was a decision I had to make.”

The growing number of injuries further dented Neill’s cause to be included in another World Cup squad.

“It becomes a factor, particularly on the back of not playing a lot of football,” Postecoglou said.

“We’re going to a World Cup and there’s a level of intensity required in the camp. An isolated injury here or there you can judge differently, but the combination of the lack of regular football and the little niggles that he got made the decision for me.”

Neill, who is stranded on 96 caps, is very unlikely to play for Australia again – though he has indicated a desire to fight his way into the Asian Cup squad, a tournament for which he has already been signed to perform ambassadorial duties.

“My discussions with him were purely about the World Cup and he had every intention of playing on next year, probably in Europe,” Postecoglou said. “The discussion wasn’t anything beyond this World Cup, both from my perspective and his perspective as well.

“I guess it’s a sad time in the bubble of a moment, [but] it’s just for one tournament, just for the World Cup.”

The process of finding a new captain won’t start until the squad is named, with Mile Jedinak and Tim Cahill thought to be the front runners for the coveted position.

“We’ve still got to announce the squad and then get into camp,” Postecoglou said. “It’s a decision for the immediate future.”

Ironically, Neill’s last game for the Socceroos looks likely to be the 1-0 win over Costa Rica in December, which was also Postecoglou’s first game in charge.

The news compounds the results of the past weekend, where Neill was part of the Doncaster side relegated to League One after they lost 1-0 to Leicester City.

Source :The Sydney Morning Herald

Lucas Neill omitted from Socceroo World Cup squad

Tuesday, 6 May 2014 9:00 PM

Neill omitted from Socceroo World Cup squad

Socceroo coach Ange Postecoglou has announced that long-serving national team skipper Lucas Neill won’t be selected in Australia’s provisional 30-man squad for June’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The defender, capped 96 times, was overlooked for the Socceroos’ last friendly against Ecuador in March after being left without a club since departing J-League club Omiya Ardija in November 2013.

Neill secured a month loan deal with English Championship side Doncaster in late March but Postecoglou felt the 36-year-old would not be ready for a World Cup campaign.

“In the end I just had to make a decision not so much about the recent history but the last six months in terms of form and fitness,” he said of Neill, who made his international debut as an 18-year-old.

“There just wasn’t enough evidence there for me to say he’d be able to hold up in a World Cup.

“It was both a combination of the lack of regular football and the little niggles he got that made the decision for me.

Postecoglou felt it was important to inform Neill personally of the decision prior to the World Cup squad being announced given what he’s achieved at international and club level.

Neill broke the Socceroo record when he pulled on the captain’s armband for the 61st time in his last international against Costa Rica.

“I had a conversation with Lucas regarding the World Cup squad and obviously before I announced the 30-man squad next week I thought it was important for me to speak to him directly,” said Postecoglou.

“I informed him that he hasn’t made the 30, from my perspective paying due respect to the fact that he’s been the captain for six years and the captain of the World Cup campaign so far.

“It was difficult, he’s worked damn hard to get himself ready and available; he’s shown an enormous determination to go to this World Cup.

“You can see why he’s played for his country as many times as he has and why he was a leader, he’s gone down fighting.”

Postecoglou indicated that his decision was purely based on the World Cup.

“My discussions with him were purely about the World Cup and he has every intention of continuing to play on and play next year, probably in Europe,” he said.


Source : Football Federation Australia

Lucas Neill inks short-term deal with Rovers

Thursday, 27 March 2014 2:38 PM

Lucas inks short-term deal with Rovers

Lucas Neill has negotiated a one-month loan switch from Watford to fellow English Championship side Doncaster in a bid for more playing time ahead of June’s World Cup.

The Socceroos veteran has been unable to get a start with Watford since signing last month as a free agent and has been allowed to join Rovers on loan until 22 April.

Neill had managed just six minutes off the bench in his only appearance for 12th-placed side and will be desperate for more playing time in a side stooped in a relegation battle.

Speaking to his latest club’s official club website Neill said he was looking forward to linking up with former Blackburn teammate Paul Dickov, who manages Doncaster.

“I have chosen to join Paul Dickov at Doncaster because of a positive conversation we had about the remaining games,” said Neill.

“Having played with the manager during our Blackburn days, I know the style of his team’s play will reflect that of his playing career and that is a competitive, hard working and energetic style.

“Doncaster were impressive in their victory over Watford a few weeks ago and given they are in the same league as Watford, I know the remaining games this season will be fiercely competitive.

“I am looking forward to joining my new team mates and working hard to earn their respect and help them have a successful end to the season.”

Neill will make an immediate switch and be eligible to debut this Saturday when Doncaster travel to Elland Road to face Leeds United.

The 36-year-old defender will be hoping the move can keep his hopes of going third consecutive World Cup alive. Coach Ange Postecoglou being clear in his mandate players need to be playing regularly in order to be considered for Brazil.

Postecoglou, who was present at Wednesday night’s draw for next year’s AFC Asian Cup, will name a preliminary 30-man Socceroos squad in mid-May.



Source : Football Federation Australia

World Cup countdown – 85 days to go

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 4:44 PM

World Cup countdown - 85 days to go

Time for something a little bit left field as it reaches 85 days to go until the kick-off of Brazil 2014.

For today, we take a look back at the Socceroos’ Group Stage match against Brazil back in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Ok, we admit it’s random but as the teams walked out of the tunnel, if you added together the numbers on the back of the jerseys of Australia’s starting XI, what magical number would you get? You guessed it – 85!

Captained by striker Mark Viduka, the line-up was as follows:
1.Mark Schwarzer (gk), 2.Lucas Neill, 3.Craig Moore, 4.Tim Cahill, 5.Jason Culina, 6.Tony Popovic, 7.Brett Emerton, 9.Mark Viduka (c), 13.Vince Grella, 14.Scott Chipperfield, 21.Mile Sterjovski

For the record, while we’re on the topic of jersey numbers, Brazil’s starting line-up comprised of the numbers 1-11.

Click here to view the squads and the match details as goals from Adriano and Fred saw Brazil hold off a gallant Socceroos outfit 2-0. It’s amazing that eight years on, there are some names in that 2006 squad that could potentially be on that plane for Brazil 2014.

The final chance to see the Socceroos on home soil before they head to the World Cup will be when they take on South Africa in a farewell game on May 26 in Sydney. Tickets for the match, presented by NAB, are on sale now. Click here to secure yours.




Source : Football Federation Australia

Lucas Neill ‘extremely confident’ of World Cup berth

Sunday, 2 March 2014 12:33 PM

Lucas Neill 'extremely confident' of World Cup berth

Lucas Neill is “extremely confident” of making the Australia squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, despite being left out for Wednesday’s Ecuador friendly.

National coach Ange Postecoglou named a relatively inexperienced squad to face the South Americans in London next week, with Neill and Mark Bresciano among the established figures to miss out.

But regular captain Neill, who recently signed for Championship side Watford having not played competitively since leaving Japanese outfit Omiya Ardija in December, does not believe that his omission means that he will not be in the travelling party heading to Brazil in June.

‘Of course, I’m extremely confident,’ he is quoted as saying by the Sydney Morning Herald. ‘I believe in myself, my own ability, and what I do have is experience – and a lot of experience at that level.

‘My goal now is to show fitness and form for my club.

‘Ange is a very fair and honest manager. If you’re playing – and playing well – you’re going to play regardless of where you play or how old you are.

‘There is no discrimination, he’s brave enough to give young blokes a chance and, equally, he showed against Costa Rica, he’s not scared to pick the best team he thinks is going to win a game.

‘I’ve had discussions with Ange which, out of respect to both of us, will remain confidential, but his message, which he’s said publicly, was he has his last opportunity to see people and (because) a lot of them are untested at the level we’re going to, he has to experiment.

‘His message, to not only me but everybody is, ‘I need you playing regularly for your club and showing good fitness and form’.

‘That’s not just a message to me, it’s a message for 30 or 40 guys who need to do that.

‘Everybody, including myself, needs to focus on that and worry about themselves, worry about their domestic form to give themselves a great opportunity to be named in the final 23 and bring great fitness and form into a squad that will need to be very fit and in great form to be competitive in the group we’ve been pooled against.’

Australia have been drawn in Group B, along with Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.


Socceroos v Ecuador
The Den, London
Wednesday 5 March 2014
8pm kick off (6 March, 7.00am AEDT)

The Socceroos v Ecuador match will be broadcast LIVE and Exclusive on FOX Sports 3 with a 30-minute pre-game show starting at 6.30am (AEDT) ahead of the 7.00am kick off.

Show your support for the Socceroos at the FIFA World Cup and order your kit today!Click here to purchase your new Socceroos kit.


Source : Football Federation Australia

Lucas Neill signs for Watford

Tuesday, 25 February 2014 8:45 AM

Lucas Neill signs for Watford

Socceroos Captain Lucas Neill hopes to play club football reguarly after signing with English Championship side Watford for the remainder of the season.

Neill’s move was announced on Watford’s website overnight, although the move is still subject to international clearance.

35 year-old Neill has been without a club since December after parting ways with Japanese club Oiya Ardija.

Watford will be the fifth English club that Neill has played for, joining Millwall, Blackburn Rovers, West Ham and Everton.

In an interview for the club’s website, Neill hoped his leadership skills would benefit the team.

“I want to add my experience to the Watford squad and I’m hoping that some of my natural leadership skills can benefit the group here.”

“I’m highly motivated to keep playing. There’s still a huge passion within me for football. I’ve had experience in different territories across recent years.”

“I’ve spent 14 years of my career in England and my family are based here.”

The Socceroos next match is against Ecuador in London on March 5, with the squad to be announced tomorrow.


Source : Football Federation Australia

Socceroo skipper Lucas Neill signs with Watford

February 25, 2014 – 11:59AM

Australia's team coach Ange Postecoglou (R) hugs team captain Lucas Neill.Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou (right) hugs captain Lucas Neill. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill admits he’s unsure if his return to English football will be enough to earn him a spot in Ange Postecoglou’s squad for the World Cup warm-up match against Ecuador.

The veteran defender on Tuesday (AEDT) signed a deal with Championship club Watford for the remainder of the season, with an option for 2015, subject to international clearance.

The move was announced barely 24 hours before Postecologu is due to name his 23 players for Australia’s March 5 friendly in London.
Neill, who has been without a club since leaving Japanese side Omiya Ardija in December, said he spoke to Postecoglou before signing the deal but was not given any assurances about his selection.

‘‘He was going to announce the squad on Wednesday and he was going to get back to me on that situation,’’ he told Fox Sports.


‘‘He has to look at a lot of options at the moment because it’s his last squad before he can pick his team for the middle of May, when the team meets up for the World Cup.

‘‘I’m not going to read too much into it, whether I’m in or out. I know I need game time, as do a lot of other players who are just about to start a season. So there’s no need for me to panic at the moment.

‘‘I know the team put in a good performance when we played Costa Rica back in Sydney a few months ago. I’m hoping that’s still in his memory when he comes to think about May.’’

The 35-year-old had been increasingly desperate to secure a deal before the World Cup in Brazil, which kicks off on June 12.
He recently spent a few weeks training with his former English Premier League outfit Blackburn Rovers and played a game in their youth side, in the hope of securing a contract for the remainder of the season.

However, the club was unable to offer him anything.

He had also been in discussions with NSW state league side Sydney Olympic.

‘‘I am relieved because it’s taken a little longer than we anticipated,’’ Neill said.

‘I’ve waited patiently and trained for a long time now – from the middle of December back in England.

‘‘But I made a specific choice to want to come back to England for the next half-year to a year-and-a-half.

‘‘I knew Watford was a club that had ambitions to be in the Premier League again [after] they missed out narrowly last year.

‘‘They needed some experience and leadership, and I was humble enough to come down and train for a week, to show them I was still motivated and wanted to be part of an exciting club.

‘‘I must’ve ticked all the boxes, and here we are, signed up.’’


Source :The Sydney Moning Herald

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill in danger of losing place

February 17, 2014

Dominic Bossi

Sports reporter

Lucas Neill and coach Ange Postecoglou speak to the media on Monday.

Lucas Neill with Ange Postecoglou last month. Photo: Reuters

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou dropped the biggest hint yet that captain Lucas Neill could be overlooked for the upcoming friendly against Ecuador by confirming the squad will have a “new look”.

Postecoglou told media on Monday he had settled on the 23-man squad for the March 5 friendly against the Andean nation in London and says he will use the match as an opportunity to trial a number of untested and fringe players who are playing regular football.

The Socceroos coach did not confirm or deny Neill’s inclusion from the upcoming squad but reiterated his selection criteria as favourable to those who are playing regular football at a strong level.


“Players that are playing regularly, playing decent football, it’s important I give them an opportunity,” Postecoglou said.


Neill has not played a senior match since parting ways with Japanese club Omiya Ardija in November last year but has spent the past few weeks training with English Championship club Blackburn Rovers and played a game in their youth team.

Neill’s uncertainty within the national team was even more telling with his absence at the launch of the Socceroos strip for the 2014 World Cup on Monday. Despite captaining the national team for the past seven years, the veteran defender was not present at the launch or included in the large-scale imagery of the new kit along the likes of Tim Cahill, Josh Kennedy, Tom Rogic and Matthew Leckie.

Though regardless of whether he is dropped for the match against Ecuador, it will not signal the end of his hopes of playing in a third World Cup as Postecoglou said his next squad will be more experimental.

“I haven’t spoken to any players, we’ll announce the squad next week,” Postecoglou said. “If players miss this squad it doesn’t mean they’re ruled out, no, and there will probably be a couple that I know pretty well that I might not select. It’s certainly not running a line through anybody at the moment. Certainly, as I said, I want to use this game as an opportunity to start building the team and players will have the opportunity of being a part of that.”

The match at The Den in London will be the final friendly before Postecoglou announces his 30-man preliminary squad for the World Cup in mid May which will be followed by warm-up games against Croatia in Brazil and a farewell game in Sydney against a yet to be named opponent.

“This Ecuador game will be an important one for me, there will be a little bit of a new-look to the side for this one and that will kind of give me an indication of where we’re heading beyond that,” Postecoglou said. “From my perspective, it was about really using this game as a little bit of a test case of how we’re going to look moving forward and that means bringing in some players that either haven’t been involved before, haven’t been involved a lot and giving them an opportunity.”

Former Central Coast Mariners defender Trent Sainsbury will have to wait until May to make his debut for national team after being ruled out of the Ecuador match after suffering a knee injury. The 22-year-old injured his knee cap in his first game for Dutch club PEC Zwolle and will not be risked by Postecoglou against Ecuador.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald