Vukovic’s World Cup goal 12 years in the making
TWELVE years ago he was on the outside looking in - now Danny Vukovic is finally on the cusp of making a World Cup.
Vukovic was a belated arrival at the Socceroos training camp in Turkey on Tuesday, club duties meaning he was the penultimate member of the 27-man squad to report for duty.
Buoyed by a remarkable season in Belgium for his club KRC Genk, Vukovic insisted he will battle to be Bert van Marwijk's first choice in goal by the time the team moves to Russia next week.
It's a far cry from the few days that a 21-year-old Vukovic spent with the squad assembled by Guus Hiddink for the 2006 World Cup, one of a handful of young players given the experience of training alongside Australia's household names.
"I was extremely excited and shitting myself a bit, going into camp with some massive players," he said. "The golden generation, players like Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.
"It was an amazing experience, training with Mark Schwarzer,Zeljko Kalac and Ante Covic. It was special.
"I've got a long list of highlights, but it was my first time involved with a Socceroos squad and to be involved with all those special players, preparing for their first World Cup in 30 years, it was an incredible time to be part of.
"It's been a crazy journey for me, a lot of ups and downs. It's nice when the hard work and perseverance pays off in the end. I want to be part of this for as long as possible. That was one thing that Ange (Postecoglou) used to tell us every camp, it's a privilege to be here and an honour - you're never guaranteed a spot, so enjoy it while you can."
Voted Genk's player of the season, Vukovic has set himself the task of pushing Mat Ryan and Brad Jones for the right to be selected to face France in the opening game on June 16.
"For me I'm preparing for as if I was playing," Vukovic said. "Everyone should be doing that and pushing each other and making sure they're prepared to play if called upon.
"I'm preparing as if I am playing and I know the other two goalkeepers are. That means I'm ready to go if I am called upon. We spoke about it today with the goalkeepers and (coach) Tony Franken, that we're a team.
"We're going to have a good month now and we're going to support each other whoever is playing."