While the excitement of the World Cup and Online Football Betting continues to ramp up in South Africa, it would be remiss to forget some of the players who can’t be there, most upsettingly the sad story of Australia’s reserve keeper Brad Jones.
Jones, who plays in the English Premier League for Middlesbrough, has returned to Europe and might not return to the squad after learning that his four-year-old son Luca had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Jones has not yet confirmed whether he will return to the squad, but online betting seem certain that Socceroos coach Pim Verbeek will call up standby keeper Eugene Galekovic to his 23-man squad – he is already training with the team at their base.
But the affect of Jones’ departure on the squad has already been massive, with some of their players admitting they had been left numb when they learned of the severity of the problem that had forced him to fly to be with his former wife in France.
It was reported that some of his closest friends had broken down in tears, especially those who know him well from his time in England, where he used to be back-up to current international keeper Mark Schwarzer at ‘Boro.
“It puts football as completely irrelevant, even a World Cup, for everybody," his team-mate Lucas Neill told reporters at a Socceroos press conference. “We consider ourselves a family, and the news we heard ... it was devastating. It hit all the boys for six.”
The reports out of the Australia camp also go a long way to explain a below-par performance in their pre-tournament friendly with the United States on Saturday, a game they lost 3-1 and seemed visibly shaken for long spells of.
Now is the time for them to regroup and remember what they are in South Africa for – to go as far as possible in the world’s greatest football tournament – perhaps with the thoughts of their departed team-mate and his stricken son to inspire them to even greater heights.
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