Fronting the media alongside his coach before tomorrow’s Asian Cup final in Sydney, Mile Jedinak reflected on his career and what it means as an Australian to be playing in a final on home soil.
“It’s great to be involved in the final,” proclaimed the Crystal Palace captain. “Being the host nation, it’s always great to get to that final game. We know tomorrow presents its own challenges and we the players are really looking forward to it.”
The 30-year-old has experienced fairytale rise throughout his professional playing career, from joining A-League minnows Central Coast Mariners in 2006 shortly before his 22nd birthday for his first professional contract to now captaining a Premier League side and his national team in a continental final after stints with clubs in Turkey.
When asked about his feelings on how his career has panned out so far, he talked about “enjoying the opportunity.”
“Did I think back then that it [leading his nation into an Asian Cup final] was going to happen? Probably not. But it’s about more so than anything about being in the moment and enjoying that moment for what it’s worth.
“I’ve learned that along the way since driving up the F3 [for a trial with Central Coast] all that time ago, to just enjoy what you have because it can be taken away as quickly as it comes. Just got to enjoy it, work hard.
“Those are the foundations and that’s what we’ll be continuing to do tomorrow.”
The man from Sydney talked about the significance for himself of playing the final in his birthplace of Sydney.
“It’s where it all started,” he went on the say. “It’s where I grew up. You’re representing an entire nation, not just a club.”
“Knowing and growing up playing football, watching football as a youngster, you know you’re privileged to be in that position and that should never be taken for granted. You have to have that in the back of your mind, because that it’s an honour you’re given, it’s something you have to earn.
“That’s something that I’ve taken not only in my club but from as long as I can remember, playing in the national team, it’s gotta be that mentality [of feeling honoured].”