YOUNG GUN: Daniel Arzani is the youngest of the 736 players competing in Russia.
YOUNG GUN: Daniel Arzani is the youngest of the 736 players competing in Russia. Toby Zerna

Thompson: Looking for a star to shine at World Cup

EVERY four years fans and ex pros like myself look forward to the World Cup because we want to see the next big talent come through.

There is always someone who, out of the blue, puts in performances no one expected.

I don't think this year in Russia will be any different.

Look at the World Cup in 2006, my then teammate Tim Cahill came out of nowhere to score a couple of goals. Now he's lining up for his fourth World Cup.

It's exciting because you never know where the next big thing is going to come from, whether it be Australia or somewhere else.

I am excited to see young Socceroo Daniel Arzani.

I look at other players from around the world and I kind of expect them to be of that high level. But in Australia we have been waiting a long time for someone like Arzani.

We don't want to put too much pressure on him but we can't help it. He, afterall, has all the attributes to become a superstar.

He can be the next Cahill or the next Harry Kewell.

SYDNEY, NSW - NOVEMBER 16: (L-R) Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill of the Socceroos celebrate victory after the second leg of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying match between Australia and Uruguay at Telstra Stadium November 16, 2005 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill have been stars at World Cups. Cameron Spencer

Arzani isn't the only Australian player with immense potential.

There has been a lot of talk about whether Tomi Juric can perform at the international level.

Sometimes it might take a goal here or there in a World Cup campaign to propel a player to the next level - a level that even that player may have doubted they could reach.

No one knew who Cahill was before the 2006 World Cup.

But he scores those two goals against Japan and suddenly he's full of confidence.

That's what happens in World Cups. There are the defining moments. If you take your opportunities it can propel you to stardom.

World Cup Soccer - Australian Socceroos training @ Oehringen Germany , Archie Thompson and Luke Wilkshire ; Pic;Gregg Porteous
FLASHBACK: Archie Thompson and Luke Wilkshire at a World Cup training session in Germany 2006. Gregg Porteous


A lot of people, including myself, have doubted the experience and talent Australia have in this World Cup squad.

I am hoping by the end of this tournament we, who have been doubting, are eating humble pie, and they can perform out of their skins.

It will be interesting to see how they go in their first game against France.

The French are playing in the top leagues in the world for the best teams.

Why we had success and why our team was quality in 2006 was because most of our players were playing in the top leagues in the world for big teams.

It is not the case with the current Aussies.

The French are exciting, young and building for the future.

As a French supporter you would be licking your lips at the thought of these young guys benefiting from the experience of a World Cup.

Embargoed for Friday 8 June 2018. Socceroos portrait of  Daniel Arzani ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup, taken in Antalya, Turkey. Daniel will be the youngest of the 736 players competing in Russia Picture: Toby Zerna
Daniel Arzani ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup. Picture: Toby Zerna Toby Zerna


Hopefully we can get on a similar pathway soon and we can start to develop some of our young talent.

When we became the first Australian side to reach the knockout stages in 2006, it was special because we had not been involved in World Cup finals for many years.

There had been so many qualifications where we had just missed out which had been heartbreaking for Australia.

Now, most of the public expect Australia to be there which puts more pressure on the players.

Hopefully, the Socceroos will get some great support just like we did in Germany 12 years ago.

There's nothing better than rocking up to a stadium in a World Cup and seeing yellow and green everywhere.

My memories of that first game against Japan, the streets were full of Aussies, the stadium was full of Australians and when we played Croatia to get us through to the next stage, there were 20 odd thousand in Stuttgart.

That's unheard of. We were lucky to get that many in our own country.

These boys need as much support as they can get. Hopefully if they feel the love they will show the love out on the pitch.

As far as picking a winner, it's all the usual suspects such as Germany, Brazil, Argentina and maybe Belgium and Portugal.

Out of those, I tip Brazil.

Brazilian football, and the way they play is the reason why I love the game so much.

They breezed through qualification although I rate their road to qualifying as the toughest of the lot considering the quality of teams in South America.

Brazil also have incredible depth. They could have picked any of 100 players for their final 23.

I always think they going to be there or thereabouts and because they made me love the game, I lean towards Brazil.


Archie Thompson played 54 internationals for Australia, scoring 28 goals, and was a member of the Socceroos' World Cup campaign in 2006.