Why Neill jumped at opportunity to re-engage with football

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Socceroos star Lucas Neill did not think twice before accepting an invitation to join the Golden Generation group that was formed to lobby for widespread change in Australian football.

Neill, 42, went into hibernation after he was omitted from the Socceroos' squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup by coach Ange Postecoglou.

The experienced defender, who played 96 times for Australia, stunned the football fraternity when it was announced he had come out of self-imposed exile to accept fellow Socceroos stalwart, and old friend, Craig Moore's invitation to join the group.

Neill is believed to have jumped at the opportunity to re-engage with the game because he never felt he was out of it anyway, despite being out of the limelight for five years.

He also is aware of what needs to change and it is understood he felt the time was ripe for him to make a contribution to the game, this time off the pitch.

 

Neill was only too happy to say 'yes' to Moore, the two stalwarts having forged a strong relationship ever since they played in Australia's back line at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Moore, who was the main driver behind the creation of the Golden Generation group, said "change has to happen and this is our chance to move forward".

Goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac, who is another member of the lobby group, said Neill's inclusion gave the new body a massive boost.

"He just thought this was the time. When someone reaches out to you, and Moorey played a big part in reaching out to him and telling him what we wanted to do, he said he was more than happy to oblige," Kalac said.

"He is a legend of the game but some people are cynical. Guys like Lucas need to be involved in Australian football because they are important for our game.

"People talk too much sh**, that's our problem ... but they don't ask the guys who have been there and done that what they think. They just don't ask us to be part of the game and that's why it is stuffed.

"We have taken the initiative to put this thing together, on a voluntary basis, mainly because no one has encouraged us to do something. Most of us have been back in the country for 10 years but nobody has asked for our opinion.

"We are all in it together now to convey our ideas as one voice. We all have or own opinions and we will pool them into one and go from there.

"Yet because we are now voicing our opinion as one, that does not mean that anything will change. The people who will make the decisions might look at what we have to say and knock it same as has been done before."