In-form Uruguay-based hitman Richard Porta is hanging out for a long-awaited cap for Australia but is still waiting to hear from Socceroos coach Holger Osieck.
Sydney-born Porta, 28, made the boldest possible statement of intent to Osieck this season, netting a stunning 17 goals in just 14 starts for newly-crowned Uruguayan champion Nacional, and is now on the wish list of clubs in Europe, Brazil, China and the UAE.
But the list he would most like to be on is the team-sheet of the Socceroos en route to the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, with Porta’s Sydney-based brother Gonzalo revealing his sibling’s frustration at being overlooked first by Pim Verbeek and now, apparently, by Osieck.
With none of Australia’s current crop of strikers producing the goal output to demand automatic selection, Porta remains a tantalising mystery to the public and also, seemingly, to Socceroos’ technical staff who have yet to see him play in person but have regularly viewed DVDs of a striker renowned for his direct style, heading prowess, raw pace and forensic finishing skills.
As recently as two weeks ago, according to Gonzalo, FFA representatives requested updated DVDs of Porta’s exploits in Uruguay where he has flourished under Argentine coach Marcello Gallardo.
“I have been contacted a couple of times by FFA asking if Richard would be happy to play for Australia and the answer has always been ‘yes’," Gonzalo told The World Game.
“I have talked lately to the Australian federation and they have wanted to look again at DVDs. But Richard is a little disappointed because this has been going on maybe for three or four years now and nothing has happened.
“Richard would like to meet somebody from the federation in person and have a coffee and catch up and talk.
“But he has never been watched over in Uruguay and doesn’t feel there is the intent there. He doesn’t feel he has anything to prove. He’s twice been top scorer in Uruguay which is a tough league and is surprised nothing has come of it.”
A Socceroos source said that Porta remained on the radar and that he would continue to be monitored.
Porta, who left Australia at the age of one, top-scored for Montevideo powerhouse Nacional this season, despite only playing half the year after going out on loan to Diego Maradona’s Al Wasl in the UAE back in September.
Porta played against Lucas Neill’s Al Jazira during his stint in the UAE, with the Australia skipper offering Osieck his feedback.
“Lucas spoke to him during the game and told Richard about the national team. After the game Richard tried to contact him but they didn’t meet,” added Gonzalo.
Gonzalo, who has extensive contacts in Uruguay, is so keen for Richard to be seen in his homeland that he is seeking to arrange for Nacional to come to Australia for a pre-season tour.
“It would be great to make that happen, then they (FFA) could see Richard in person,” he added.
Porta has unfinished business in Europe and is pondering offers from Germany, Portugal and Spain.
Gonzalo added: “My feeling is that he would like to go back to Europe because people said he failed there. People said he wasn’t good enough and he wants to show they are wrong.”
Porta feels he has a point to prove after his $3.7 million move to Serie A Siena in 2008 turned sour following a change of coach. That was followed by a loan spell in Portugal with Belenenses where another change at the top stymied his progress.
“In Dubai, he was carrying an injury and he wasn’t ready to play but Maradona put pressure on him to play and he was struggling with his fitness,” said Gonzalo.
“It’s ironic that when he was finally fit he was on his way back to Uruguay where he couldn’t stop scoring. He even got back-to-back hat-tricks. He was upset with Maradona because he really didn’t support him in Dubai.”
Porta could easily be lost to the Uruguay national team which, while boasting the likes of Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez, may soon be looking to replace the ageing Diego Forlan, who will be 35 when Brazil 2014 rolls around.
While Porta has represented Uruguay at under-20 level, the closest he has come to a green and gold shirt was during a training camp with Australia's under-17 team in 1999.
“He is just waiting to see what happens but the Uruguay national team are more than aware of him and something could also happen there. He has been spoken to and of course he’d love to play for a national team,” added Gonzalo.
“Of course, growing up in Uruguay it would be hard to go against them if they made the offer.”
Australia midfielder Tommy Oar celebrated his Socceroos call-up with a starring role in FC Utrecht's 2-0 win at Twente in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off.