Socceroos’ Jamie Maclaren pinching himself over joining World Cup squad at the final hour – FIFA World Cup – Russia 2018
Jamie Maclaren training with the Socceroos in Turkey ahead of the World Cup in Russia. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)
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Jamie Maclaren was at breakfast at a resort in Dubai when he got the phone call that changed his life.
“They said you might need to be on the next plane to Turkey,” the 24-year-old said.
He had goosebumps for two hours and was still pinching himself.
“To be honest on holiday I actually packed a pair of boots to Dubai,” Maclaren said.
“It has been a bit of a whirlwind but it’s always been a feeling in my gut that I could have this opportunity.
“You don’t know whether to laugh, cry, whatever.”
After the disappointment of being axed from the team a few weeks ago, the on-loan Hibs striker was called back after Tomi Juric suffered a knee injury.
He was given a late call up for the pre-tournament training camp in Turkey.
Jamie Maclaren said he was still pinching himself over being called up to play in the World Cup. (ABC News: Lincoln Rothall)
But Juric made a full recovery and Maclaren was tipped to be sent packing again.
Instead he is now part of the final 23 heading to Russia.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the announcement, Maclaren revealed the emotional rollercoaster had not taken its toll.
“I’d rather be here than sitting on a sun lounger in Dubai,” he said.
Sounding relaxed, Maclaren talked at length about feeling blessed and honoured to be part of the squad.
“Let’s be honest — World Cups, I’ve watched them since I was a kid and to say I have been part of a world cup squad is a proud achievement for my family and for myself,” he said.
Socceroos camp smells like team spirit
Maclaren said he was at 100 per cent fitness and the team itself was full of confidence.
“It’s probably cliche but it’s the Aussie spirit,” he said.
“People can say you’re not the side with the most ability, but at the end of the day we believe in ourselves.
“When we come together in camp you can see everybody’s laughing and joking around.
“At meal time, some boys don’t even want to leave the meal room because you’re having such good chat.
“That’s important as a team, and when you’ve got a coaching staff of the highest quality it breeds confidence and we believe in each other.”
Maclaren’s own self confident is sky high.
“I’m the kind of player who will pop up out of nowhere in the box and get that goal, and sometimes in tournament football it takes one chance to win the game,” he said.
The message for the big European teams they will face in Russia?
“Don’t underestimate us — but if you do, then we could punish you.”