Socceroos winger Martin Boyle’s World Cup campaign ended in cruel fashion before a ball was kicked. He had been named in the Socceroos squad, only to fail to recover from a knee injury – which was subsequently diagnosed this week as ACL rupture.
But the injured superstar, a nailed-on Socceroos starter when fit, is still playing a crucial role for the Australians this tournament.
And his importance to the squad was made clear in a touching moment after the historic 1-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday night, when coach Graham Arnold gathered his squad and staff on the pitch – before pulling Boyle into the middle of the huddle and delivering an emotional speech.
Boyle – on crutches after surgery just days ago – was pictured raising his crutches into the air as the Aussies celebrated the incredible win.
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After the match, Arnold said: “We’ve moved him into the staff now, as our OVM: Official Vibes Manager. He’ll keep all the boys up, because he’s just one of the most fantastic blokes you’ll ever meet in your life.
“Even though he’s got that injury, the most important thing for him is the rest of the boys. There’s no way he wanted to go (home). He wants to stay, support and be part of it. He deserves it more than anyone for what he did in the qualifying campaign.”
Riley McGree, who started against Tunisia in the win, declared: “Boyley, getting the injury, it’s just another reason, another thing for us to fight and show what we’re about. Job not done, still got another game and hopefully many more after that.”
Arnold revealed his message to the players in the team circle was: “‘I’m very proud. But we’ve achieved nothing. This moment, yes, we will talk about after. We’ve got one win, and it hasn’t been done for 12 years and all that stuff, but we’re here to go as far as we can go.’”
He added: “That one game is done and I don’t want any emotion from the players, I don’t want them sitting up all night watching social media and all that stuff. It’s about getting their sleeping right, recover well and the mindset ready for Denmark.”
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