02/03/2024

Craig Goodwin will be jetting off to Qatar with the Socceroos, but before that, a date with Melbourne Victory awaits (Photo: Adelaide United)

After being selected by Graham Arnold for the Socceroos World Cup squad, it would have been understandable if Craig Goodwin was wrapped in cotton wool for the final A-League Men game before the break in order to protect his fitness heading into his maiden tournament.

With the opponents being a familiar foe though, anyone that knows Goodwin’s character would have had an inkling that was not going to be the case. When asked about if there was any thought to him sitting out of the Reds’ home clash against Melbourne Victory, Goodwin laughed off suggestions.

“Absolutely not, there is no chance you could take me out of this fixture against Victory! It is the one fixture I look for at the start of the season and go, ‘right when are we playing Melbourne Victory? When is it at home?’

“It is a really proud moment (getting selected), I am really excited for the World Cup, obviously it being my first, it is going to fulfill a childhood dream and it’s going to be an amazing experience for me, but first and foremost there is one more game to go until that and it’s the biggest game in our calendar.

When asked to elaborate on what makes the fixture so special Goodwin, a born and bred South Australian echoed the sentiments of Reds supporters.

“It’s the atmosphere that it brings, it’s the rivalry that’s there from the history, the matches that have been played before, everything about it you can see and sense, during the week and on game day, that it means more than any other fixture.”

Making the World Cup squad was only part of Goodwin’s objective, the winger is not planning on traveling just to make up the numbers. Be it from the bench or in the starting XI, Goodwin is planning on playing with his trademark relentless pursuit for success to help his country prove its doubters wrong.

“As a young boy you grow up dreaming of being in these scenarios and these situations, but the thing for me is I try and ground myself by thinking, ‘how did I picture myself in those situations when I was a kid?’”

“I don’t picture myself just being there, I picture myself actually doing something there and making an impact. Every time I step out onto the field wearing an Adelaide United jersey, I give my absolute best for the team and for the fans and it will be no different at the World Cup.”

Goodwin has only scored once before for his country, against Vietnam in the qualification stages for the 2022 World Cup, and he wants to return on the scoresheet for his country on the biggest stage. Despite the quality of Australia’s opposition, Goodwin remains focused on what he can do once he takes the field.

“To score in the World Cup would be right up there with the best moment of my career, a dream come true,” Goodwin remarked.

“It is something that I want to do, I have my mind set on doing that, and I back myself like I’ve said, against any opposition. Hopefully, the chance will come when I step out on the field with chances at goal and to create for the team, again I’ll take that in my stride, I’ll play my game and the chances should come.”

After achieving such an important milestone in his career, Goodwin can reflect on his journey which has been anything but smooth, consisting of NPL SA and Victoria football and a stack of rejections before taking the long way back to Adelaide via Melbourne Heart and the Newcastle Jets.

In his third stint at the Reds, Goodwin has been made captain and his form has been to great for Graham Arnold to ignore, despite a highly competitive squad to break in. The winger shared that journeys like his and his teammates’ have become a focus on international duty through the slogan, “many journeys, one jersey.”

“It’s a message that hits home, it was created by the playing group in Arnie’s first camp and it is exactly that, everyone has their own journeys to get to where we are, to get into the team, and it’s about putting all those journeys together and having a really strong bond within the group to perform for this country.”

Having experienced such a rollercoaster to get to where he finds himself today, Goodwin feels like it is his duty to pass down his wisdom about handling the turbulent experience professional sport may present itself to younger footballers who will undoubtedly face obstacles throughout their careers.

Journeys like Goodwin’s can be tough, but for the individuals that get through them, they teach lessons in not taking experiences for granted. Despite being selected to play on the world’s biggest stage, that gratitude is clear in Goodwin whose undivided attention is first and foremost on his home-town club’s rivalry game which he grew up dreaming of one day participating in.

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