He may no longer be on the books at Crystal Palace but former club captain Mile Jedinak retains cult status amongst the Eagles’ faithful, with his performance in Australia’s World Cup play-off against Honduras earlier today only adding further to his reputation.
— JISA Sports (@JISA_Sports) November 15, 2017
After a drab first leg ended 0-0, the Socceroos knew that a victory on home soil would see them seal a place in next summer’s World Cup over in Russia. Step forward captain Mile, who as you would expect, met the task head on and dragged his teammates across the line one crunching challenge at a time.
Nerves are an inevitable part of any play-off game, particularly one where a place in the biggest tournament in world football is at stake but after a cagey opening 45 minutes, it was thanks to a long-range deflected strike from Jedinak that the hosts edged in front. In games as big as this was, you always look for the players who are willing to stand up and be counted and in Mile, the Australians have someone who seems to truly flourish on the big stage.
On 72 minutes, he was given the chance to double his country’s lead from the penalty spot, tucking his effort precisely into the bottom left-hand corner with the coolness of a man who has always felt most at home when standing over a dead ball 12 yards from goal.
Incredibly, he got the opportunity to guarantee the win with another penalty kick seven minutes later, sending the keeper the wrong way and bagging a hat-trick (yes, I know the first one has gone down as an OG but I’m giving it to him) which will go down in the footballing folklore of Australasia forever more.
Now at Aston Villa where he is loved just as much as he was at Selhurst Park, I’ll make no bones about the fact that I still have a huge soft spot for the bearded midfield enforcer. The team may have moved on since he left but I’ll never forget the hard graft he put into getting us into the top flight.
I will look forward to watching him take part in another World Cup with just as much interest as I would if he were still playing in red and blue from week to week.
Well in skipper.