Two games, three goals (maybe four): Why the Socceroos are wild about Harry

Australia World

Updated October 16, 2019 14:34:00

Harry Souttar must think international football is a piece of cake.

Who is Harry Souttar?

  • The 20-year-old was born in Scotland to an Australian mother
  • He played youth international football for Scotland, before making his debut for the Olyroos earlier this year
  • Souttar plays for Fleetwood Town in the third tier of English football, on loan from Stoke City
  • His older brother John is also a professional footballer, who has three senior caps for Scotland

The tall Scottish-born centre-half has played five years of senior football, finding the net on just three occasions in that time.

In just one week as a senior international for the Socceroos, however, the 20-year-old Souttar has matched that tally, including a double in last night’s 7-1 win over Chinese Taipei in Kaohsiung.

Australia has a perfect, three-from-three record in its opening World Cup qualifiers, including wins over other group opponents Kuwait and Nepal.

The Socceroos’ forwards have appeared in good nick, with Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and hat-trick man Jamie Maclaren all getting among the goals in Australia’s opening games.

But it is the unlikely figure of Souttar that has captured much of the attention, perhaps since it’s hard to hide when you’re 198cm — or 6’6″ in the old money.

The defender has caused problems for defences with his height when he pushes forward — usually, but not always, at set pieces.

“If you’d said to me before the trip this would happen I wouldn’t believe you,” Souttar said.

“So for me to come here and just be able to play is just amazing.

“To get the two wins and the goals, as a centre-half, is a little added bonus.”

Before his brace against Chinese Taipei, Souttar scored twice against Nepal last week, both times using his head.

Sadly for the defender one of those goals was taken off him as it was ruled an own goal by Nepal’s Dinesh Rajbanshi.

“The Nepal one is being contested,” he said.

“I’ve told the media guys to contest it because I still think it was my goal but obviously the two today were clear, there’s no doubt.

“I’m absolutely delighted.”

In purely height terms, he is similar to another Socceroos cult hero, Josh Kennedy (194cm or 6’4.5″), who also disrupted defences and scored plenty with his head.

Souttar’s attacking style is fairly ungainly, although that doesn’t seem to bother people when he is banging them in with such regularity.

But does this mean the man from Aberdeen is Australia’s new goalscoring saviour? Well, not really.

With no disrespect meant to Nepal and Chinese Taipei, one suspects better defences than theirs might have more success keeping Souttar under control.

Despite his goalscoring heroics, it’s his defensive duties that Souttar is eager to improve before another qualifier against Jordan next month — especially as he builds his partnerships with international teammates such as Milos Degenek and Bailey Wright.

“The more you train, the more you play together, the more you get used to each other,” he said. “It’s obviously first time playing with them both.

“I think it went well. They’re good communicators, they’re leaders so I’m only going to learn off them two to benefit my career.”

Coach Graham Arnold has been delighted with Souttar’s start, and he clearly sees plenty of upside in the big man.

“Harry’s just a great person and he’s a very, very good player,” Arnold said after the match.

“He’s going to get better and better as we go.

“You’ve got to think that only a few months ago I saw him with the Olyroos and we brought him in the Olympic team and now he’s already in the Socceroos and scoring goals.

“Set pieces can break open games and we’re scoring goals off set pieces now where we weren’t before and we’re scoring goals off general play.

“Having Harry’s size is great and he’s already a hit back at home.”

ABC/AAP

Topics: sport, soccer, socceroos, soccer-world-cup, australia, scotland

First posted October 16, 2019 11:27:40

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