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Socceroos recluse Neill ends six-year exile

Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has broken a six-year silence, saying he’s “honoured” to have represented Football Federation Australia in unveiling new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson in London.Neill had gone to ground since being overlooked for Australia’s 2014 World Cup squad.He never addressed being dropped by then Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou and went into exile…

Former Socceroos captain Lucas Neill has broken a six-year silence, saying he’s “honoured” to have represented Football Federation Australia in unveiling new Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson in London.

Neill had gone to ground since being overlooked for Australia’s 2014 World Cup squad.

He never addressed being dropped by then Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou and went into exile in England.

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But the first signs of Neill’s return the fold came earlier this year when he put his name to the “Golden Generation”, a group of Socceroos greats including Mark Viduka, Craig Moore and John Aloisi who drafted up plans to improve Australian football.

And further proof of an improvement in Neill’s relationship with Australian football officials came when he responded to a request from FFA CEO James Johnson to assist with “on-ground logistics and operations” when Gustavsson was unveiled as the Matildas new coach Tuesday night at the Australian High Commission in London.

“Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, FFA asked me to represent them on the ground in London and on ‘home away from home soil’ at the Australian High Commission,” Neill said.

“I was honoured to do so.

“This is a very important era for the Matildas and Australian football. Having spent the day with Tony, it is evident how passionate and determined he is to be successful and develop talent.

“His emotion combined with his attention to detail has me believing that there are exciting times ahead.

“I wish Tony, the staff, and all the Matildas all the very best as they embark on an amazing four-year journey.”

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London-based former Matilda Alicia Ferguson also assisted in the Gustavsson announcement.

Johnson said FFA intended to “improve engagement with former greats to involve them in the telling of the Australian football narrative’.

“Due to the COVID-19 situation globally we really had to think creatively regarding this announcement,” Johnson said.

“The fact that Tony was assisted by two former players also demonstrates how we are committed to bringing football to the centre of the organisation.”

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