It’s always a fear that confronts you when you meet a hero. You always wonder if they will turn out to be a bit of a jerk. Meeting Harry Kewell provided no such fears, just pleasure. Our meet up took place in his office at Crawley Town FC, just north or London on a slightly brisk Saturday afternoon last month.
The night before, we had visited London’s Olympic Stadium where we witnessed West Ham cop a 3-0 thumping at the hands of newly promoted Brighton FC. Less than 24 hours later, we pitched up at Broadfield Stadium to see the relegation threatened home side take on table toppers, Luton Town FC in league 2. The match ended 0-0 and Crawley were unlucky not to snatch all 3 points late on.
After the match we stopped by the players entrance to see when Harry might make his way out. When the security fella found out we were from Oz, he dropped to speak with Harry direct who said he would be out soon. Around thirty minutes later, and with the cold night air beginning to descend, we were invited into Harry’s office for a quick chat.
Once inside, Harry thought it best if we pop into the hall where less people were around. He was all smiles and gave us plenty of time to talk about Sydney, Liverpool, his job at Crawley Town a bit of banter. He didn’t have to give us time out of his busy day but it speaks volumes for the man that he chose to.
I’ve been following Harry since he moved to Leeds in 1996 where he played 180 plus games whilst scoring some of the best goals you could ever wish to see. You could only imagine my excitement when, in 2003, he signed for Liverpool and was, at the time considered the missing link to bring a title back to Anfield. Unfortunately, a series of crippling injuries dented his career during his spell on Merseyside but that didn’t stop him collecting a Champions League medal in 2005. From Liverpool, he moved onto Galatasaray before a season with Melbourne Victory. Following that, he moved to Al Gharafa then finished up with one final season at Melbourne Heart.
A career highlight for Harry came in 2006 as he single handily carried Australia to the group stage of the World Cup in Germany following his late winner against Croatia. The Bankstown fighting spirit came to the fore that evening as it did on many other occasions during his illustrious career for club and country.
Once our time with Harry came to an end, we shook hands, he wished us well and away we went, pleaded as punch that we had finally met an Australian icon! A man we have looked up to and worshiped for some 20 years. A pioneer of Australian football who played a role in putting football on the map down under.
One day, I will have to return to Crawley Town and get my Liverpool shirt with Harry’s name and number on the back signed. Harry being Harry, I’m sure, will once again be more than obliging. Being a boy from Western Sydney, Harry Kewell knows where he came from and appreciates those of us who grew up in awe of his many achievements that continue to this day. I always imagined him as being a kind and humble human being and that is exactly how he was meeting him in person. Thanks Harry Kewell. You gave me another awesome moment I can take to my grave later in life!