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Harry Kewell fulfilled a boyhood dream by joining Liverpool in July 2003 for a bargain Â£5 million. He began in terrific form, scoring 11 goals before the beginning of a horrific run of niggling leg and ankle injuries in January 2004.
Spotted as a youth at the NSW football academy in Australia, by Howard Wilkinson, he joined Leeds United in 1996. He made his senior debut at 17 against Middlesborough and went to become the club’s star player with extravagant pace and skills. From left wing or forward, Harry can beat defenders at will and score dazzling goals. At his best he is one of the most entertaining players in the Premier League. The highlight of his Leeds career was reaching the semi-final of the 2001 Champions League, partnering Mark Viduka up front.
Inspite of the injuries that beset him in the 2004-05 season, Harry was able to appear in the Carling Cup final and, more importantly, in the Champions League final in Istanbul. After 20 minutes in the final, he had to limp off after snapping a ligament in his groin. Crucially, he made way for Vladi Smicer, who went on to make a significant contribution to the historic win with a goal and a successful penalty. In the 2005-06 season, after finally overcoming the worst of his injuries, Harry is back to lighting up the left wing for Liverpool. It is doubtful that he will be able to play injury-free, but a nearly-fit Harry is a major piece in Rafa’s plans for world domination.
Making his debut for Australia in April 1996, Kewell has scored 5 goals from just 19 games until now. This low return has been matched by his occasional partner in attack, the talented, but enigmatic, Viduka. Both were present at the traumatic showdown in the World Cup campaign in November 1997 at the MCG. Harry opened proceedings with a well-taken goal, which heralded to the nation the enormous potential of the nineteen year-old. A shaky defence and questionable tactics by Terry Venables contributed to the loss, but Harry would finally attain World Cup qualification under another foreign coach. An extremely short preparation with the Aussie squad was not enough to hinder the Dutch master coach Guus Hiddink as he plotted the demise of the over-confident Uruguayans. On a historic night in Sydney in November 2005, a virtuoso performance by Harry Kewell inspired Australia to victory on penalties. Despite a lack of fitness and being unable to reach top speed, Harry beat players repeatedly and delivered perfect passes at a rate many people had almost forgotten he was capable of. It was his vital contribution that set up Australia’s goal and paved the way to the World Cup.