How Cool is Harry?

Australia is not the only country afflicted by the club v country debate but sometimes it seems that way. Here is a rough transcript of reponses when it was announced that Harry Kewell has withdrawn from these matches against Brazil due to "injury". These letters are roughly in sequence, though not strictly chronological as the discussion widens.

Bonita Mersiades 8/11/1999

I can report that Harry Kewell has advised IMG tonight that he has an injury to his right ankle and calf and is not able to travel for fear of aggravating the injury.

Dave Reid 8/11/1999

What a load of sh*t, we know who put him up to it.

It`s ok to play on sunday he is such a gutless little boy.

He has done more damage to this game in oz with all this crap give him the flick from the Olyroos now and get it over with.

Those poor suckers who bought tickets especially melbourne people.

Boyd Peters 8/11/1999

why could i not see this coming. And poor Harry is "gutted" he says. BULLSHIT

Tony Enberg 9/11/1999

Have tried to remain positive about yet another potential home Socceroo fixture tragedy, but it looks like it's going to eventuate again. Like so many of us having our fingers burnt and having become disillusioned with the way the game is run here, I also held off buying tickets, but I think we're all there for the long haul. Not so for all those other not so 'hard core' supporters who may see this as the last straw.

Personally, I couldn't care less who came here to play against us so long as we have our best possible side on the park, after they're now the big timers playing in the big leagues, the sort of players we'd go to watch as our opposition. Whats more this would preferably be in a competitive fixture with some meaning.

Nothing will change until SA and our players start to believe in themselves ie they should feel that the can justify the same respect any other player or administrative body in the game demands. Regardless of whether Harry is genuinely fit or not, who the hell does O'Leary think he is to take his stance. Would he take the same view with a Republic of Ireland player if they were playing in a similar fixture in say Rio de Janeiro? In footballing terms I hardly think we should be so in awe of Eire, or they are any more deserving of respect than us. Anyway, this sort of attitude from foreigners isn't going to go away, so the issue is what is SA going to do about it? The level of commitment of individual players must be examined also.

In the naivety of youth, a fixture against Brazil at home would have been like anticipating christmas, but in the reality of adulthood the first thought when hearing about this fixture was who have I heard of in the Brazilian Olympic team and which will be the most outrageous last minute Socceroo withdrawal. I'm sick of it. But I've been hooked, though the line might break before I shell out the $50 minimum (but it still may be better than watching Spirit lately ;-) )

Wade Hart 10/11/1999

f*%k off leeds!

i hope we enforce the fifa law than. that is total crap, he ran for 93 minutes two days ago, never limped or anything...what crap.

leeds *spit*

Tony Calder 9/11/1999

I just heard on the late news that Leeds are now claiming that Harry is injured and won't be able to make the trip to Australia even for the first game. Oddly enough, he didn't seem to have any difficulty playing the full game against Wimbledon.

Well, as FIFA have already indicated they are on Australia's side in this case, at least there shouldn't be any difficulty in keeping Kewell out of the Leeds side for their game against Bradford - petty though that may be. And hopefully Soc Aus won't take the line of not wanting to upset Leeds, otherwise they won't release Kewell for the Olympics - I can tell you right now that Leeds have no intention of ever releasing Kewell for the Olympics.

I doubt that Kewell will ever play for Australia again, until he gets his act together and decides he wants to play enough for him to tell O'Leary to stuff it.

And if Leeds get away with it (again) you can bet that the other EPL teams will take notice (Harry Redknapp has already stated as much), and it will get harder and harder for FF to get players released.

FIFA really needs to decide how committed they are to improving football outside Europe. If they're committed, they'll start to do something about forcing the clubs to release players. Otherwise they might just as well admit that the future of football is Europe, and the rest of the world will just have to get used to being told what to do by the European clubs.

End of rant.

Bonita Mersiades 9/11/1999

Without exception, there's not one player who hasn't had pressure over this tour. The overwhelming majority of them really want to be here.

David Arnold 10/11/1999

I am amazed all the Euroroos have returned for essentially friendly matches against Brasil's U-23 selection.

They deserve a lot of credit, some in fact are jeopardizing their club careers to do this. They also deserve a lot of applause from the media, but probably won't get it.

David Marshall 9/11/1999

Harry Kewell is a good player and may become a great player, but, if I had any say in it, he would not be playing for us again in any circumstance. If I hadn't seen him running, riding tackles and shooting with both feet only a few short hours ago I just may have been persuaded of the bone fides of his injury. As it stands, I cannot. I know he has huge pressure put on him by O'Leary, but if we can't have him during the European break when so many others can be arsed to come home, then when can we? I can understand he may feel his future is in European league football - well let him rot over there unless he can find the balls to stand up for his country. What a shame it all is - the game NEVER gets a fair crack of the whip here does it? The awful part is that no doubt all this will be forgiven and forgotten and he will waltz into the olympic team (if he deigns to) and will displace some poor sod who has made himself available when needed. What a role model for the kids coming through!

Article of unknown source posted by 9/11/1999

Leeds striker Harry Kewell has been withdrawn from Australia's squad to play Brazil this week after United said the youngster was not fit enough to play. Kewell, who was originally released for the weekend fixture after a tug-of-war between club and country, is said to have picked up calf and ankle injuries in games against Lokomotiv Moskow and Wimbledon.

The Australian FA are far from happy at the latest development, with chairman Basil Scarsella claiming the Yorkshire club have behaved "unprofessionally."

He told the Australian Associated Press that the Socceroos would ask FIFA to suspend Kewell from Leeds' next home game against Bradford on November 20.

But Leeds are claiming that they thought Kewell was on the flight to Australia. In a statement the club said: "We are very disappointed with the comments attributed to Basil Scarsella, chairman of Soccer Australia, as Leeds United will always endeavour to act in total co-operation with national associations regarding international call-ups.

"Leeds United agreed in writing with Soccer Australia to release Harry Kewell for the first game against Brazil on Sunday, November 14 1999.

"This decision was agreed by the chairman Peter Ridsdale and manager David O'Leary and was conveyed directly to Harry Kewell.

"If for any reason Harry Kewell does not intend complying with the required call-up we can only presume that this is a personal decision and one that Harry must decide himself directly with Soccer Australia."

A spokeswoman for the series promoter, IMG, said that Leeds manager David O'Leary had ruled Kewell out because he feared he might aggravate injuries.

"He is carrying two injuries - a right ankle injury and a calf muscle injury. The club believe the long flight will just slow the healing process," the spokeswoman said.

Bernie Mandic of IMG said Kewell was disappointed that he could not come. "He's disappointed but he says it's easy for people on the other side of the world to start jumping to conclusions. He says he lives in Leeds every day of his life, and he has to look at what happens after he makes a decision, not just at the decision," Mandic said.

"He says, 'Leeds are my employers so I have no alternative but to do what they say'."

Meanwhile Lee Bowyer has withdrawn from the England Under-21 party ahead of their Euro 2000 play-off in Luxembourg.

The Leeds midfielder was substituted after an hour of the defeat at Wimbledon with a recurrence of the groin injury which has plagued him all season.

Bowyer is playing game-to-game as his badly-needed operation continues to be postponed.

Manager David O'Leary said: "It will be a blessing for us if he is able to soldier on until the end of the season and have the operation in the summer.

"But it is touch and go and we will just have to keep monitoring his fitness."

Tancred Fergus 9/11/1999

Let me be the first to call for Spirit to dump this petty little wanker as our number one fan. It's totally clear he will never play for Australia again in the foreseeable future and I for one am totally sick of him. It's time he told Leeds he is comming back and thats it. Spirit could find many other players willing to be part of the club *and* wanting to play for the Green & Gold.

Chris Dunkerley 9/11/1999

Hey Tancred I agree with you! Tell him his services are no longer required and sign up someone else like one of the Joeys who have come back.

Here we have the 1st game:

1. Oz has played against a real team, albeit the Brasil Olympic team, in 15 months
2. For the new coach Frankie
3. Of our 2002 WC campaign given the few games we will get
4. In a European break and announced well in advance

........and this bloke thinks he can pick and choose.

If he's injured and can't play then he should be out here for his late birthday party and be cheering the lads on in person.

If he's not then he's an arsehole.

Leeds should be told quite clearly that they are on the nose with 18 million people and find out their sponsors and tell them that too.

As for the game, I hope it is an official FIFA game because we should kick arse. I wish I could be there but I can't. I urge those who can to get out there and cheer on this classy Aussie National Football Team - stuff the opposition!

David Arnold 9/11/1999

I was convinced about a week ago but was reluctant to say it. Fair enough, his pressing engagements seem to be a late 21st party, a commerial with Qantas, catching some waves at Bondi and inspecting the lineup of emissaries meeting him at the airport.

Oh, and we can't forget having Frank kiss his shoes.

If he wants to play in the Olympics, he can come on in the last 10 minutes every game.

Ray Gatt 9/11/1999

I take no pride in this, but I've said along that Harry has been hiding behind Leeds' skirt for too long and that he had the power to do what he wants, including returning to play for Australia.

It's good to see that SA through Basil Scarsella have finally had enough. I've quoted him in tomorrow's paper and he has made some very strong comments, including all but intimating that Harry has just about done his dash in regards to future selection for Socceroos and, especially, the Olyroos. Basically he said enough is enough and that Kewell can no longer pick and choose when he wants to play for Aust (not that he has done so too much anyway).

Also, I've written a separate piece on the reaction of a number of former Socceroos including Kosmina, Richards and Krncevic, and they have all hit hard. Richards calls Leeds parasites and says Kewell can go and play for Madagascar as far as he is concerned. Kossie and Krncevic said they had sympathised with Kewell, but no more now. They say he has cried wolf once too often and that he should now stand up for himself.

Fred Leggett 9/11/1999

I feel very sorry for new Socceroo coach Frank Farina, who has worked wonders getting people like Viduka, Bosnich etc back for a "meaningless friendly" against what is, ostensibly, the Under 23 side representing Brazil.

His foray to Europe to open the lines of communication are to be commended, and hopefully will mend a few bridges that may have been damaged in the past.

However, he must be looking to the heavens when it comes to Harry Kewell.

Kewell has been up and down like a bride's nightie....

Personally, I feel that despite what nice things may be said about Mr Kewell he really doesn't care about comning to Oz.

I'm afraid all this "he's only a young guy who can't fall out with his boss" nonsense just doesn't wash with me.

He is considered a "star of the future" with his club, Leeds, if not a star of the present, and experience tells me that.. stars tend to get their own way.(just look at their contracts)

Ronaldo, after all is here..or about to be, so channel ten assure me.

Sorry Harry, I don' think you really give a toss.

And let me say that on a personal level, that if I was 21 again (I wish) and had been blessed with Harry's football ability ...this is a transcript of the conversation which would have arisen between me and Mr O'Leary had I been placed (allegedly) in Harry's shoes and been chosen for the Scotland squad ..

O'Leary .."Fred I think you need a rest, and I don't think you should play in the Scotland v Brazil game..

FF..." you didn't play for Ireland?..I'm going!"

O'Leary.." I won't release you, you are only young, and I am a wise man who knows what is best."

FF.."I'm going, that's it, there are no games on that weekend and I'm going."

O'Leary.."Sorry Fred, I've decided.."

FF.."So have I, I'm going."

O'Leary.."If you go, it could affect your place in the team."

FF.."Too bad, I've missed too many games already, people are starting to think that I am not fair dinkum, and there couldn't be a better opportunity to prove them wrong, what's your problem Boss?"

O'Leary.."Fred I can only say that I don't want you to go, and it could have serious repurcussions on your selection chances when you return if you insist on going"

FF.."David, Boss,. let's not kid each pick me because you think I will add value to the team..if there was a player better than me I'd be in the pick the best players to get the best keeps you in a job if we win.."

O'Leary.."That's it..I forbid you to go!"

FF.."F*** Off you ignorant manipulating, hypocritical Irish B******, I'm going and THAT IS IT!"

O'Leary." You can't speak to me like that!

FF.."F*** Off..I'm going, if you dont like it, put me on the transfer list, and explain that to the Leeds fans&board!"

Door slams..and FF makes his way to the airport.

Quite simply, I don't belive Harry is fair dinkum, or he is more concerned about his earning current capacity than he is about playing for his country...he wants to pick and choose his games.

Whipping boys were a thing employed by the English aristocracy in previous centuries, and O'Leary-Leeds fit this role fine, while some portray kewell as a "player wronged"



Cameron Atfield 9/11/1999


I'm sick of it. Sure, he's arguably our best player at the moment. But pick him again when hell freezes over.

I sincerely hope he DOESN'T play in the Olympics.

Maybe he'd also like to watch the Socceroos at the 2002 world cup from his Leeds mansion... I don't care.

Players need the talent sure. But they also need the passion.

Bonita Mersiades 9/11/1999 (speaking strictly for herself)

Nah. Pick him every time, so we can suspend him every time.

Peter Ashby 9/11/1999

Leeds need Kewell more than Kewell needs Leeds. You can't tell me Harry doesn't know this. If Harry wants to play here, he will. If he doesn't play in oz, then plays in Leeds next game, we'll understand what young Mr Kewell is all about.

Peter Thorpe 9/11/1999

Well at the risk of incurring the wrath of the entire list I am prepared to swim against the anti-Kewell tide.

There are calls aplenty for Kewell's head seemingly based on the belief that his injuries are bogus. Well if Frank Farina believes that, I suggest he get some independent medical advice on the injuries. If this confirms that there is no injury or it is not serious then young Harry will have a case to answer.

However If Frank is satisfied already or the medical confirms that the injuries are kosher then what's the fuss and why should Kewell be castigated any more this week than last week. Injuries to players are a fact of life and if genuine the situation is unchanged - we will have ongoing problems with leeds and O'Dreary but I am prepared to accept Kewell's assertions of last week at face value.

A couple of people cited the Wimbledon game as evidence that Kewell is not injured. I know from my own playing days that on several occasions I received injuries during games which did not prevent me completing the game but once I had cooled down I was unable to walk for 2 or 3 days afterwards. I am sure any ex-players out there would have similar experiences.

Certainly the first 48 hours after an injury can be the most critical for effective treatment. Slightly more beneficial than sitting on a 747 for 24 hours. Maybe SocAus should offer to fly him out on Friday so he can still be part of the gathering.

As is often the case when people start assuming they know what the true story is without any hard facts to back them up, the sheep come a bleating only too eager to join in.

You may all now fire when ready !

Adrian Smith 9/11/1999

Surely you are joking Peter? Harry wrote BEFORE the match at Wimbledon that he wasn't coming because of injury. And yet he still played 90 mins there? Must be the world's most (un?) predictable injury if you ask me. And it seems that Harry always seems to suffer a recurrence of it when Australia have to play. Seems very like Ryan Giggs situation to me. Doesn't want to play friendlies for the country, but wants to be known as the important man for "real" competition.

Whilst we can't do away with Harry (and he knows it), surely something must be done to remind Harry that he can't pick and choose when his country requires him to play.

David Marshall 9/11/1999

So Leeds say it's Harry personal decision not to come! If true, the stuff I typed in anger last night holds up in the cold light of day this morning. He should not be picked for Australia again in a hurry. If it is not true, and Leeds are sullying his name to escape a FIFA ban for him for one match, then I hope Harry will speak up and defend himself against the slur.

In any case SFA and IMG MUST cease using him as the prime focus in any future promotions because it is at best misrepresentation and may well make them targets for charges of misleading advertising. If we need to know acurately the minute details of what is in, say baby food or toilet cleanser, so we do of our national football team. Will we ever know the real story?

Herbert Dietze 9/11/1999

I've been following this thread in the past months with the usual interest. As we all know the relationship between Leeds United and SA is not the best, and they (Leeds) have constantly been trying to avoid letting Kewell travel to Socceroo matches. However I very much doubt that Kewell himself does not really want to play for Australia.

Whenever I read Kewell statements on this, he stated very clearly he considered Socceroo matches as very important for him. But, what's much more important, in *all* matches I saw him play for Australia he was one of his team's best. I believe these `never saw him do a real tackling' talk is plain wrong. He's a technically skilled player and does a lot for his team in his way, being the one to be tackled most of the time (think of Aus - Fifa for example).

IMHO Frank Farina is right making clear he wants Kewell, not letting Leeds get away with their usual stuff. However, if Kewell is really injured this time - we may be able to tell later - there's nothing we can say about his ambitions right now. Having seen him for Leeds in TV summaries a couple of times I can somehow understand why they don't want to let him go, so doubts in Kewell's international ambitions are the best favour we can probably do them.

Ray Gatt 9/11/1999

I believe there is method to Leeds' madness on the Kewell issue.

It seems to me that Leeds have forced this confrontation knowing the sort of reaction that Kewell's withdrawal would get from Aussie fans, and in particular, the Media. I would suggest that they are hoping Kewell will get upset by the reaction and immediately announce his retirement from international football, just like Bozza then Okon did during the 1993 World Cup campaign.

Presto, Leeds' problems are all solved!!

Well, if that's the case then it is a small price to pay to be rid of the blood sucking English club and a player who is on video as a 13-year-old saying his ambition and dream was to play for England!!

Peter Thorpe 9/11/1999

Come off it Ray. When I was 13 I told someone I wanted to sleep with Ginger from Gilligan's Island. That certainly doesn't mean I want to now !!

Imagine dragging up something someone said as a 13 year old. My flabber is well and truly gasted.

SMH article by Michael Cockerill and reposted by Binesh Mudaliar 9/11/1999

While Harry Kewell continues to provide ammunition for those who question his commitment to Australia, John Aloisi arrived in Sydney yesterday to provide a stark reminder that playing for your country can still have its appeal.

The 23-year-old Coventry City striker has not played for eight weeks, and has officially been left out of the Socceroo squad for the forthcoming two-match series against Brazil. But so keen is Aloisi to be in on the ground floor of Frank Farina's regime as national coach that he has flown halfway across the world in a desperate bid to force his way into the reckoning.

A ruptured tendon behind his knee has proved far more troublesome than Aloisi had imagined - sabotaging his partnership at Highfield Road with Robbie Keane just as it was gathering momentum. But as much as he remains frustrated with the inactivity in his club career, Aloisi is even more disappointed that the injury has cost him a green and gold shirt against Brazil.

Or has it?

With the blessing of Coventry manager Gordon Strachan, Aloisi has been allowed to join the Socceroo squad to aid his rehabilitation - both physical and mental. And while he is reluctant to put pressure on himself, Aloisi has not ruled out making a surprise comeback in the second match of the Brazil series in Melbourne next week.

''It feels a lot better now than it did even a week ago, and I'd love to play in Melbourne,'' he said. ''I've been looking forward to these games for so long, I guess I just couldn't stay away. I've always loved playing for Australia, and the fact that these are Frank's first games in charge makes me want to be here. ''I just want to be involved in any way I can. If I get to play, well, that's a bonus.''

Boyd Peters 9/11/1999

and is there anyone out there who wouldn't relish the opportunity to be a part of the socceroo's for goodness sake. This guys commitment makes me fell proud. how many of us follow a shit team like coventry just to see how he is performing? i like the guy, even if he doesn't play you know he is supporting the players and i think thats great.

kewell can PO as far as I'm concerned.

I'm gutted he said. I wanted to be home for Christmas he said. Yeah right the guy doesnt even know its early november. he's a toff and very un-australian.

Does anyone know any players? is there much comraderie amongst them? for instance in last nights match rangers v celtic moore & viduka played on each other. if they were on the same flight here would they speak to each other or ......?

so it is with Aloisi? would farina make him welcome to be a part of the rooms b4 and after the game?

thats what the cricket team has, a good team spirit. i winder if it is quite bitter in the rooms oir if 'cos there's so many internationals where we use local players one week and then a different team with the "A" internatinoals from O/S the next week , and weve used like 70 players in 3 years, if Aloisis would feel he has not really earned a place or is part of the squad proper? just some thoughts.

Binesh Mudaliar 9/11/1999

This is an earlier story from the Leeds website

As expected three of the Leeds youngsters picked for this weeks internationals have pulled out through injury.

Leeds have six players chosen for the England under 21 match this weekend but the chance of all six staying in the squad always looked slim. Michael Bridges missed Sunday's defeat at Wimbledon with a bad back and is out of the squad, Lee Bowyer was again substituted and his need for a hernia operation get's greater he again is out of the squad and Jonathon Woodgate is out after being replaced at half-time on Sunday after splitting his eyelid open..

That just leaves Danny Mills, Alan Smith, and Paul Robinson as the sole representative's and give the other three the chance of a rest. Gary Kelly and Ian Harte both have two games to play for the Republic of Ireland against Turkey so they won't get a rest and Harry Kewell is off to play in a friendly so he won't either.

Seven of the players on duty on Sunday are due to play international football over the next week so only four will get some much needed rest.

I'd love to know why Leeds and South Africa captain Lucas Radebe is allowed to travel for literally every game that his national side plays. Perhaps it's in his contract?

Peter Kunz 9/11/1999

Yep, it's cruel, whether primarily by Leeds or Harry, good old Aussie soccer gets shafted again.

Let's put Harry Kewall in perspective.

When I visited the Soccer Expo at Homebush last year I was a bit disconcerted to see large signed framed posters of Harry selling for three figures. And this is from a kid who has been in the Soccceroo team for "five minutes" compared to other players.

I thought then that it was a bit much, it seemed to me that Harry or/and his management was already intent on screwing as much money out of his Aussie fans as possible.

Of course Harry is a good player, but what we need to make it to the next WC or Olympic final are COMMITTED players.

So I say bring on the FIFA ban, otherwise as others have mentioned we will be compromised more often by other managers and clubs in Europe.

The fact remains however that as long as we play "friendlies' we will not get the respect of Europeans for our international games.

We have ONE important match ONCE every 4 YEARS!!. (excluding the Johnny-come-lately Confed Cup) This is our dilemma and disgrace. SA should be trying to get us into as many important tournaments as possible. If there isn't one to go to, INVENT ONE.

Teams get invited into the South American Championships and I think there is even a North American Championship being held with teams from outside the geographic area. Do we ever talk to other confederations to find out if we can get an invite, or do we have to have the financial muscle of the USA or Japan to succeed, as those countries have in playing in confed tournaments outside their geographic areas?

What would be wrong with a Southern Hemisphere tournament featuring teams from many African and South American nations?

And another thing, why not play more international matches in Europe? Leeds wouldn't stop Kewell travelling to eg. Cardiff, Brussels or Rome would they? And any win in Europe would count more with the imperious Europeans then a win in Australia.

The bottom line is that if we "cave in to Kewell" and Leeds we may as well let the grass grow at our international stadia and mow them every four years!!

PS: Why not bring Cardozo into the squad to replace Harry - at least he'd be eager!

OK nurse, I'm ready for my injection - anything to take the depressing pain away of being an Aussie soccer fan.

Ah that's better, Aussie soccer, what Aussie soccer - I couldn't care lesssssssssssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Tony Calder 10/11/1999

I agree. If, as Peter Thorpe suggested, his injury can be confirmed by an INDEPENDANT doctor, then fine, otherwise, piss him off and tell him he's not needed or wanted in the Socceroos any more.

Friendlies make up a pretty fair proportion of most internationals for most European clubs. In a 4 year cycle, 1 year they are playing Euro qualifiers and 1 year they are playing WC qualifiers, but if they don't make the cut-offs, the other two years they are playing friendlies. I don't feel there is a problem with playing friendlies, but, as you suggest below, we should try and schedule most of them in Europe, although that does leave the Australian public left out somewhat.

Leeds stopped Kewell from playing in Southampton remember, so Cardiff, Brussels and Rome are certainly too far :)

reposted article from Binesh Mudaliar 9/11/1999

Top Footy Pundit Backs Leeds Star In Club v Country Saga
By Howard Johnson & Gavin Willacy

The furore surrounding Leeds boss David O'Leary's decision not to allow his Australian striker Harry Kewell to play in two friendlies with Brazil later this month is rumbling on. And pundit Andy Gray has come down firmly on Kewell's side in this 'club v country' debate.

Speaking exclusively to Football365, Sky Sports analyst Gray said: "I know that it's a difficult thing for a manager to agree to release players for international duty, especially when our Premiership season is already so long and gruelling, but surely in situations like this it's in the best interests of everyone that the player should be the one to make the decision if there is any doubt? After all, playing for your national side is something that nearly all players feel very passionately about. If Harry is desperate to play for Australia in these particular games, it's hard to imagine what his reaction will be towards his manager if he's refused the right to represent his country."

Incredibly, Leeds will not actually be playing any Premiership matches in the period when Kewell would be away on international duty, with Australia finally managing to arrange their games to coincide with breaks in Europe. That has enabled them to call on all of their best players based in the Premiership, Serie A, the Bundesliga and Scotland, ensuring that Kewell would not only be facing the likes of Ronaldo and Denilson but would also be playing with top quality players, something that was not the case when he was called up for Australia Under-23s last season.

But, according to the 21-year-old, O'Leary told him that he wouldn't be released because he was in need of "a rest", despite the fact that Kewell could play in the first game in Sydney - as initially agreed - and be back in Leeds with five days to recuperate for their next Premiership game!

"I know that there is a great deal of pressure on players and managers in the modern game," continued Gray, who won 20 caps for Scotland in a 13-year career, "but I also think it's very difficult for Leeds in this situation. These games may be friendlies, but Harry wants to play and can you imagine the reaction if a Premiership manager refused to release a player for an England game, whether it was a friendly or not?"

Exactly. O'Leary, who claims Kewell does not need to play in a friendly and needs a rest, is the same man who said he was brimming with pride when five Leeds players starred for England in an Under-21s friendly against Denmark last month! OK, that was only down the road in Bradford, but it was still another game in a very hectic opening two months to the season for such young players.

When Jonathon Woodgate was injured three days before the friendly in Hungary last April, missing a chance to make his debut, O'Leary was not exactly gutted for the lad: ''It gives him the chance for a rest which he desperately needs,'' he said.

O'Leary is taking a bizarrely stubborn stance over this. In a lengthy international career, he won 68 caps for the Republic of Ireland, playing in friendlies in such far-flung places as China and the USA when he perhaps should also have been "resting".

Is this O'Leary merely being bloody-minded because he never got to play against Brazil? Having missed the Republic's two friendlies with the greatest international side in the world in 1982 and 1987, is he just jealous? Surely not.

Harry Georgiadis 11/11/1999

I disagree that we should just ban Kewell from playing for Leeds next league game against Bradford & leave it at that. We need to get to the bottom of the story because there has been so mush conflicting information that its been impossible to say with any certainty what has gone on. Did Peter Ridsdale really believe that Kewell was going straight to Heathrow after the Wimbledon game & boarding a flight to Australia? Did O'Leary (how can someone who was so passionate about playing for Ireland be so hostile to his stars playing for theirs) concoct this cock-and-bull story with Kewell after the game? Maybe even unbeknown to his chairman? Or was it all pre-conceived to tell SocAus that they had agreed to let him go when all along they had no intention of doing so.

Most importantly of all, Kewell has to finally stand up on his own two feet & tell us his side of the story instead of hiding behind Leeds' skirt all the time. He is no longer a fifteen year old apprentice but an adult who should be strong enough to make a decision. Does he really want to play for his country or not? Only he can answer that & the sooner he does the better.

The very least we deserve is the courtesy of a press release from Kewell. Or are we just supposed to take it on face value that he is injured. In the words of a famous movie starring Clint Eastwood " I Gots to know". In the hype surrounding the games, I haven't as yet bought a ticket for fear of such an eventuality. The pundits are right. You can't beat experience.

written by various