Football: Bosnich in trance, Australians entranced

Gerard Wright in Sydney describes an awe-inspired homecoming for United's new keeper

MARK BOSNICH is back home. It is his old home and could not be more different from his new one. It has blue skies, for one thing, and the Olympics, for another. After a damp week Sydney has returned to its usual self with sunshine, impenetrable traffic and the antics of a sports promoter getting above himself.

If he looked around and remembered, there were reminders for Manchester United's newest signing of where he came from, what it took to get there and how sweet it is now that he has arrived.

Manchester United play Bosnich's other team, Australia's Socceroos, in the second leg of their two-match exhibition series at the newly opened pounds 330m Stadium Australia, the main venue for next year's Olympic Games, early today London time. Neither team are at full strength. United's David Beckham is training at home after his honeymoon. Ryan Giggs might as well have paid to get into the first match, in Melbourne on Thursday, such was the extent of his participation. Paul Scholes, Ronny Johnsen and Roy Keane are not here. Andy Cole and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are, but they did not play on Thursday.

In a sense, the Melbourne game was the first step in a long and arduous trek to a peak yet to be scaled by any club side. Chief executive Martin Edwards calculated United played 62 games last season. You could understand why some of them weren't ready to resume the trip just yet. Except for Bosnich, making his second visit to Sydney in as many months. The first was in early June for a Socceroos match against a Fifa All-Star team.

As a warm-up for that match the Socceroos played their younger compatriots, the Olyroos, the Under-23s who will represent their country at the Olympics. The game was played at the Marconi Stadium, a grand name for an oldish ground in Sydney's inner western suburbs. There, alongside his goal, Bosnich went through his usual pre-match routine. He stretched, he jogged, he exercised for 10 to 15 minutes. Five metres away, on the other side of the fence, the kids saw him and went mad. They yelled his name and held out their pieces of paper. Oblivious, Bosnich continued his preparation.

He was watched from nearby by Robert Krslovic, the deputy chairman of Bosnich's old club, Sydney United. "He was almost in a trance," Krslovic recalled. "It was almost as though he didn't hear or see anything until he finished the routine."

Gradually the noise subsided and the kids became absorbed in what was before them: a fine professional athlete, going to work. "Once they sensed that he wasn't ignoring them, how focused he was on what he was doing, they were watching in awe," Krslovic said.

Bosnich grew up in Fairfield, in Sydney's outer south-western suburbs, the same place where another Croatian-Australian child flourished, then ambushed the sporting world: Jelena Dokic. Bosnich graduated from the Sydney United class of 1989. At least five of his team-mates from that season went on to play overseas, although none would keep the company that Bosnich did.

Among the Socceroos he is not the captain, but a leader nonetheless. On an earlier return for national duty he hired a stretch limo one night and took his team-mates to the newly-opened Planet Hollywood.

To be cast as their opponent was, he said in a press conference on Friday, "a strange feeling, because I've played so many times for the Socceroos". This time he wore navy blue rather than the green and gold of home. That was when he wasn't in club-issue jacket and tie, dutifully offering the house-trained sportsman's platitudes to questions he has probably heard many times already.

Bosnich took questions in a conference room at the Star City casino, along with stand-in skipper Denis Irwin, erstwhile Socceroos team-mate Alex Tobin, the promoter Rene Rivkin, United's Martin Edwards and assistant manager Steve McClaren. Rivkin is a successful and high-profile - some would say ostentatious - stockbroker. Having been thwarted in an attempt to take over a team in the Australian national league two years ago he did what might be seen as the next best thing and, in his first venture as a promoter, enticed the world's most famous sporting conglomerate away from Old Trafford.

He sat mid-table, a fat cigar protruding from the middle of his mouth like some phallic pacifier. He has an uneasy relationship with some sections of the local media and is suing the Sydney Morning Herald for its assertion that he was implicated in the apparent suicide of a female model several years ago.

In the usual manner of the promoter he described United's strikes at the MCG as "two of the best goals I've ever seen", asserted that the tour would run at a substantial profit, without saying how many tickets had been sold, and declared that, save for the few thousand "swooning" teenage girls who had chosen not to turn up because of the absent Beckham, the list of absentees had apparently made little difference to sales.

Rivkin owns two nightclubs, one attached to the Star City hotel where the teams are based, and another in the exclusive suburb of Double Bay. United's training sessions were closed to the public. If the conference was an imposition on Bosnich and Co, it was probably worth it. They were spotted by a nine-year-old boy lingering by the foyer of the casino hotel. "The players are back there," he told his friends, then paused. His timing was perfect. The kid will probably work one of the cabaret rooms at the casino when he grows up.

"They're looking at Rolexes."

house + home
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Life and Style
Bats detect and react to wind speed and direction through sensors on their wings
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living