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Jedinak thrives after knock-backs

Thursday, June 12, 2014

SAO PAULO, AAP - Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak remembers getting laughed at.

And he also remembers not being able to get an A-League contract.

"I have had my knock-backs," Jedinak says as he prepares to lead Australia's campaign at the World Cup in Brazil.

As a boy in Sydney, people asked Jedinak what he wanted to be when he grew up.

He knew the answer: a professional footballer. But he was reluctant to say it.

"In this country, you would say you wanted to be a professional footballer and people would laugh at you," Jedinak says.

"So whenever I'd get asked 'what do up want to be when you grow up?', I would want to say professional sports person. But I knew people wouldn't take me seriously.

"But I knew I wanted to do this from a very young age."

Jedinak's love for soccer started when watching his older brother play.

"I remember one time watching those older boys, they needed someone to play and I got chucked in," he says.

"I didn't have any gear or anything. I used cardboard as shin pads."

As a teen, Jedinak left Sydney United in state league ranks for Croatian club Varadin. He struggled, making just one competitive appearance in 2003-04.

"When I went to Croatia as a youngster I came back after a year and half," he says.

"It just didn't work out."

On return to Australia, the then 21-year-old, considered a hard worker but not elite talent, was snubbed by A-League clubs.

"I couldn't get an A-League contract immediately, for whatever reason. So I just had to bide my time," he says.

"It was tough. But you can't force these things. Sometimes it's just about timing."

Central Coast Mariners came calling in 2006 and he stayed with the A-Leaguers until Christmas Day 2008, when he signed a contract with Turkish outfit Genlerbirligi.

He stayed in Turkey until June 2011 when he sought another club in another country a month later, he signed with Crystal Palace in England.

Jedinak admits when he went to England, he never dared to imagine that, three years on, he would be captain of Palace and Australia.

Now he's national captain, Jedinak acknowledges the expectation on him.

"But I take it all in my stride, I don't let it faze me," he says.

"I have been given a responsibility at club level to be a captain for a reason.

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