Harry Souttar’s Championship club reportedly put a $A35 million price tag on his head before he was cruelly cut down by an ACL injury last year. That estimation is set to skyrocket after an individual performance rated by his peers as one of the greatest ever seen in a Socceroos shirt.
The 198cm Stoke City centre back was absolutely enormous in Australia’’s 1-0 win over Tunisia at the World Cup – an iconic, late game-saving tackle the highlight of a performance that featured some mind-boggling statistics:
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Souttar, who made just his 12th Socceroos appearance after switching allegiances from Scotland, has already attracted interest from English Premier League clubs, including Everton, West Ham and Crystal Palace. More are sure to come knocking after witnessing what he can deliver on the world stage.
“It’s right up there with the very best (Socceroos performances) for a defender, a midfielder, or a forward,” Socceroos teammate Jackson Irvine said.
“It’s one of the best individual (Socceroos) displays ever seen, but he doesn’t need to be told that.
“And he’s one of the first ones back in the dressing room to say ‘we go again’. That’s the kind of person and player he wants to always push us and push everybody further.
“That moment and that tackle, it was celebrated almost more than the goal …I think that will be one that’s played for years to come.”
Told of Irvine’s comment Souttar said: “that’s high praise coming from him” but the humble 24-year-old was typically keen to deflect the attention from himself.
“I could go through the whole team and say what an unbelievable job they’ve done,” Souttar said.
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Making Souttar’s performance even more astonishing is the fact he’s only three games back from the knee injury that threatened to ruin his World Cup dream.
Australian coach Graham Arnold took a risk by picking both Souttar and Kye Rowles, also returning from a serious injury, and the payoff was Australia’s first World Cup clean sheet since 1974.
“You’ve always got to have self belief in yourself and self-confidence,” Souttar said,
“But again it’s not a one-man. All the lads were amazing today , doing their roles and their jobs.
“… I’ve only played three games so I dont think I’m 100 per cent (fit) but I give 100 percent every game. Towards the end there the legs were starting to go a bit, that last six minutes, I thought ‘just get through it’.
“… I think today you saw a team that was willing to put bodies on the line, making blocks, tackles, headers, wingers getting back , strikers working hard.. It was an all-round really good performance.”
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Socceroos skipper Mat Ryan said of Souttar’s performance: “He’s a big boy and has got great qualities, we’ve seen that time and time again before his injury but the journey that he’s been on to get back and give himself the possibility to play at a World Cup , only he knows the ins and outs of that, but full credit to him.
Awer Mabil added: “He was amazing. Harry we missed him last year but it just shows his quality and he did it on the world stage. We have a really good team and really credit for Harry for picking himself up and coming back stronger than ever.”
Midfielder Riley McGree perhaps summed it the most succinctly, and effectively.
“He’s massive. Literally,” McGree said.
“He can move, he can play, he’s such an important player for us.”