Milligan set to join rare Socceroos club
VETERAN Mark Milligan will become just the fifth man to lead Australia into a major international tournament when the Socceroos begin their Asian Cup defence on Sunday against Jordan.
The 33-year-old will join 1974 World Cup captain Peter Wilson and recent skippers Mark Viduka, Lucas Neill and Mile Jedinak as those who've led Australia at either a World Cup or Asian Cup.
Milligan acknowledged the responsibility that comes with his role.
"I am following in the footsteps of, firstly some very, very good players, but secondly some wonderful leaders," Milligan said.
"I been fortunate enough to be around and play under the likes of Dukes, Lucas and Mile so I've played with the majority of players that you've said and been a part of this group ... you're learning from them all the time. You see the way that things have worked and the things that haven't as well."
Leading his nation in the United Arab Emirates caps a heady few months for Milligan.
His appearance at Russia in the 2018 World Cup made him one of just two Australians to play at four World Cups along with now-retired Tim Cahill.
Following that tournament Milligan finally achieved a career-long dream of playing professionally in Europe after signing with Scottish Premiership club Hibernian.
Such has been Milligan's ride in recent times, it's weird to consider he seriously contemplated retiring following the World Cup before landing his dream move to Scotland.
"Last year when the visa fell through you tend to get a little bit disheartened and I guess look at it as though that dream was a little bit too far, but there was a few options in the end from Europe and I thought Hibs was a good fit for me," he said.
"I didn't want to go to a team, especially at my age, where I wouldn't be given the opportunity to play. Obviously I still have that passion and drive to fight for a spot but I want to make sure that if I was putting in that kind of effort that there was a reward for it.
"It's definitely proven to be a good move so far."
SOCCEROOS SKIPPERS ON THE WORLD STAGE
Peter Wilson - 1974 World Cup
Mark Viduka - 2006 World Cup, 2007 Asian Cup
Lucas Neill - 2010 World Cup, 2011 Asian Cup
Mile Jedinak - 2014 World Cup, 2015 Asian Cup, 2018 World Cup