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Neill determined to defy international retirement calls

By Football News



Lucas Neill said he wants to end his Australia career on his own terms, ahead of the Socceroos' battle with Costa Rica on Tuesday.

Neill, who plies his trade for J.League club Omiya Ardija, also defended his recent criticism of the country's younger squad members, claiming it to be a motivational ploy.

The 35-year-old caused a major stir in the aftermath of last month's disastrous 6-0 loss to France when he questioned the desire of the next generation of players to wear the Socceroos shirt.

Former Socceroo Robbie Slater immediately called for Neill to be stripped of the captaincy, while Mark Bosnich has also called for the veteran to step aside.

But Neill, who is yet to learn whether he will keep the captain's armband in Ange Postecoglou's first game at the helm when the Costa Ricans come to Sydney, said he was simply trying to make a point.

"It was a motivational technique that was used to get everybody to realise just how much pride you need to put into this shirt because we are the lucky ones," Neill said at Socceroos training on Friday.

"There's 22.9 million other people who cannot play for Australia, and never will, and can only dream and support us, we're the lucky ones and we have to make sure we don't take that for granted."

Despite a lack of recent game time for Omiya, Neill said he is adamant he still has something to offer the national team and is desperate to be a part of next year's World Cup campaign.

"There's no talk of me retiring, I will choose to end my career or retire when I feel I don't want to go on anymore or if I feel I'm not offering anything to the team," he said.

"I'm sure any manager, whether it be club or country, could also have an influence on that, but right now I'm training with 22 other guys, I'm enjoying myself, I'm highly motivated and I'll continue to do that as long as possible."

Asked if he has discussed the captaincy with Postecoglou ahead of Tuesday's friendly, Neill - who made it clear he still wants the captain's armband - replied: "No, you guys (the media) seem to have more fun with that than us.

"The focus is purely on making sure that the 23 guys that are here are still here in a couple of months time when obviously we all want to go to the World Cup.

"And obviously the manager will decide on his leader when he feels he's picked his team, and from that team he'll pick his leader."

Neill admitted media speculation over his position in the side and his leadership has gone on 'a little bit long' but added it is just good that people are now talking about the code in Australia.

He also insisted he has no problem with team-mate Tim Cahill's comments on Thursday, with the New York Red Bulls man putting his hand up for the responsibility.

"Of course not, any player who gets asked if they want to be the captain of Australia should answer, 'it's a dream come true'," he said.

"But it's not a game, the captaincy is not something that you can just hand around, it's not something that we should just try and vote for, you've got to earn it.

"It's the manager who's going to decide and when he does the person who gets it is going to be truly honoured and know he has a great responsibility."