Last month Harry Kewell and Melbourne Victory parted, just twelve months into a three year contract. Kewell will turn thirty four in September and Championship clubs Blackburn and Middlesbrough, as well as last years League Two Champions Swindon Town, have all expressed an interest in signing the former Leeds man.
Kewell made his name in England when he forced his way through into the Leeds United first team squad at the age of seventeen years old in 1995 and had established himself as a regular the following year. Capable of playing in an attacking midfield or front man role, Kewell developed into one of the Premier League’s finest young talents and was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year crown for the 1999/00 season, as well as a place in the PFA Team of the Year.
That summer, Inter Milan came in with an offer of £25 million for the Australian International, an astronomical fee at the time, but Leeds rebuffed the offer deeming the attacker indispensable. The following season Leeds achieved the spectacular feat of reaching the Champions League Semi Final with Kewell a mainstay of the successful team eventually quelled by losing finalists Valencia.
In 2003, Kewell departed Leeds with the club facing heavy financial burden and joined up with Liverpool. Offers had flooded in from European heavyweights such as AC Milan, Barcelona and Manchester United but Kewell evidently had his heart set on the Anfield club. The start to his Liverpool career was fairly successful, carving his name onto the teamsheet regularly and proving to be an effective attacking threat.
Kewell’s Liverpool highlight came when he was announced as a member of the starting line-up in the 2004/05 Champions League Final, with Rafa Benitez deciding to drop Dietmar Hamann to the bench and attack AC Milan. Sadly his career lowlight followed in the first fifteen minutes of the game when a hernia injury arose meaning Kewell had to be replaced. Nevertheless Liverpool went on to win and the Australian picked up a Champions League Winner medal, the greatest prize in club football.
Injuries tainted the following three years of his Liverpool career sadly and in 2008 Kewell moved on to Turkish champions Galatasaray where he established himself as a fan favourite for his brutal work ethic and professionalism on and off the pitch. Thirty six goals and just under a century of appearances later, Kewell’s contract with the Turkish club expired and Harry began the search for another club. QPR offered a return to the Premiership but the option of returning to his homeland with Melbourne Victory proved too much of a lure. Many were quick to write off his career here with the return home appearing to be a final swansong, however after a successful season at the Victory Kewell has decided to assess his options, preferably looking for a return to English football.
His international record for Australia has been fairly successful with fifty five caps won and a total of seventeen international goals to his name. Of those goals, none will be remembered quite so fondly as his seventh international goal against Croatia. Needing just a point to reach the Knockout stages of the 2006 World Cup, Australia looked down and out, trailing 2-1 to the Croatians in the final game of Group F. However with just fifteen minutes to go, Kewell stepped up to the plate and scored the equaliser to take Australia to their first ever World Cup group qualification. Kewell has recently earnt the prestigious accolade of Australia’s greatest ever player trumping players of genuine quality such as Tim Cahill and Mark Viduka, and the ability to come up with the good when the chips are down, such as in 2006, were probably the deciding factor.
Equally adept at playing on either wing, in a central attacking position or just off the striker the likelihood is that Kewell could really prosper in the Championship. His style of play and attitude show that he is a true team player with almost as many assists to his name as goals during his career. Team players with the quality of Kewell are hard to come by these days, especially in Championship football.
If Kewell can get even remotely close to the performances for Leeds United that saw a return of a goal or assist in every one in two games, the likes of Blackburn and Middlesbrough would be laughing if they could secure the signing. Injury problems appear to be in the past, and age doesn’t appear to have diminished Kewell’s skills and abilities based on his performances for Galatasaray and Melbourne. So roll up, roll up and don’t miss your chance to get your hands on a potential bargain before he’s gone!
image: © esmerr