Craig Goodwin and Lionel Messi after Argentina defeated Australia in the Round of 16 of Qatar 2022 (Image: Craig Goodwin - Instagram)

Craig Goodwin may have starred against football’s best in the World Cup, but his focus now returns to Adelaide United and the A-League Men season.

Craig Goodwin’s stature in Australian football feels like it is constantly on the rise, and one thing that South Australians do well is getting behind their own.

On Tuesday night, Goodwin returned from Qatar, and the international arrivals section of Adelaide Airport was packed with South Australian football fans who turned up to show their appreciation for their local star.

After finding the back of the net against France and Argentina, while also assisting Australia’s goal against Tunisia, Goodwin placed himself firmly in the spotlight on football’s biggest stage, overseas interest becoming an inevitability.

Despite being prompted more than once about his future soon after returning to the country, Adelaide United’s captain reaffirmed his commitment to the South Australian club.

“I’ve signed a long-term deal here and I’ve got a lot of work to do to help the team win trophies because that’s what I want to do here and that’s what the goal is with this club. My future is with Adelaide, I’ve signed a three-year deal, I’m happy here and that’s where my future lies,” Goodwin stated.

Goodwin certainly felt the love of not just South Australia, but the whole of the nation, stating that the players in the Socceroos camp enjoyed seeing the scenes that unfolded around the country as their country performed beyond their lowly pre-tournament expectations. He is now hoping that the sport that captured Australia’s imagination for a fortnight receives the attention it deserves when it comes to funding.

“Football is very low down on the list of investments when compared to other sports and I think that is one thing that massively needs to change. It’s got the most participation at junior levels and if we can match the investment and put more into the game here in Australia that would give it the best chance,” he said.

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Playing against some of the top football nations in the world, Goodwin hopes that an increase in funding will mean fostering an environment that can get close to matching the success of World Cup opponents like France and Argentina when it comes to developing young footballers.

“I would say the biggest thing we can focus on is trying to match the training, the coaching, and the quality of coaching the European sides get. If we can close the gap from that aspect and get kids playing a lot more football and coaching from a young age, then hopefully that can give us a better foundation for the future,” he said.

Despite describing his fresh World Cup experience as a “blur,” Goodwin was clear that his full attention is back on the A-League, with his side aiming to continue its strong start to the season.

“I feel like I am experienced enough now to be able to turn my focus (to Brisbane). After the selection to the (World Cup) squad, I still had the Victory game to focus on as well which has helped me in a way with that,” Goodwin said.

“I know what I need to do, I know what to focus on and I always say that whether it is a game or outside the game the most important thing is to focus on what is now and what I am supposed to be doing right now.”

Having pulled up after the World Cup in good physical shape, Goodwin said the decision on whether he will start against Brisbane will come closer to the game time, after judging how he recovers from the long-haul flight home.

Regardless of if he starts on the pitch or on the bench, Goodwin will be involved and he is ready to make an impact.

“For me now, it is making sure I get the recovery in and to get myself right for the (Brisbane) game, then whatever role I am playing, whether it is from the start or whether it is from the bench, I’ll know what I’ll need to do,” he said.

“I do want to put my hand up to play, obviously, I want to pick up as many points with the team as possible and help them wherever I can, that is always my main goal. We started the season really well and we are in a great position to kick on and have a really good season.”

Craig Goodwin and Adelaide United travel to Brisbane and Wellington in the next fortnight before returning to Coopers Stadium on the 27th of December for a clash against the Newcastle Jets.

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