Paartalu named in Socceroos squad


As a young footballer growing up in Sydney, Erik Paartalu always dreamed of one day pulling on the green and gold for Australia.

As a young footballer growing up in Sydney, Erik Paartalu always dreamed of one day pulling on the green and gold for Australia.

After being named in Holger Osieck-s Qantas Socceroos squad for Wednesday-s FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia, he may finally get his chance.

It-s been a long road for the 25-year-old who kick-started his football career with Northern Spirit in the now-defunct National Soccer League before plying his trade with Gretna and Greenock Morton in Scotland before eventually making his way back home in 2010 to join Brisbane Roar as one of Ange Postecoglou-s first signings.

Almost a decade has passed since Paartalu twice represented Australia at under-17 level and after receiving the all-important phone call yesterday, Paartalu-s delight at being chosen in the 19-man squad was obvious as he fronted the media.

“I-m over the moon,” he said.

“It-s a childhood dream to get the chance to represent your country and hopefully I-ll get the chance to get a few minutes on Wednesday night.”

The Qantas Socceroos boss has called upon a range of European, Asian and Australian-based players in his squad to face Saudi Arabia with a blend of seasoned veterans and the internationally inexperienced in the mix.

Fellow Hyundai A-League players Michael Marrone and Mathew Ryan are the only other two uncapped players in the group but with the likes of Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill and Brett Emerton named in the squad, Paartalu was surprised at his inclusion despite his involvement in an identification camp held in Sydney in October.

“I wasn-t really expecting it,” he said.

“Obviously Holger had been looking all over the A-League and with the boys that he-s chosen for the squad, it-s a pretty strong group of players from Europe and from Asia with a few A-League boys thrown in there.

“To be named alongside those guys in the team, it-s a big honour.”

Paartalu will still take part in Brisbane Roar-s week 21 away clash against Perth Glory on Saturday night before joining the national team camp the following day in Melbourne.

The Qantas Socceroos are currently at the top of Group D after collecting maximum points from all five of their opening fixtures, meaning their place in the next stage of FIFA 2014 World Cup qualifying has already been guaranteed.

Kick-off against Saudi Arabia at Melbourne-s AAMI Park on Wednesday night is at 8.30pm AEDT with the match to be broadcast live and exclusive through Fox Sports.

Qantas Socceroos squad: Mark BRESCIANO (Al Nasr Sports Club, UAE), Alex BROSQUE (Shimizu S-Pulse, JAPAN), Nick CARLE (Sydney FC, AUSTRALIA), David CARNEY (FK Bundyodkor Tashkent, UZBEKISTAN), Brett EMERTON (Sydney FC, AUSTRALIA), Harry KEWELL (Melbourne Victory, AUSTRALIA), Michael MARRONE (Melbourne Heart, AUSTRALIA), Mark MILLIGAN (Melbourne Victory, AUSTRALIA), Lucas NEILL (Al-Jazira Club, UAE), Jade NORTH (Consadole Sapporo, JAPAN), Sasa OGNENOVSKI (Seongham Ilwha Chunma, SOUTH KOREA), Erik PAARTALU (Brisbane Roar FC, AUSTRALIA), Mathew RYAN (Central Coast Mariners FC, AUSTRALIA), Adam SAROTA (FC Utrecht, HOLLAND), Mark SCHWARZER (Fulham FC, ENGLAND), Matthew SPIRANOVIC (Urawa Red Diamonds, JAPAN), Archie THOMPSON (Melbourne Victory, AUSTRALIA), Michael THWAITE (Gold Coast United, AUSTRALIA), James TROISI (Kayserispor Kulubu, TURKEY)