Aiden O’Neill Eyeing Socceroos Midfield Spot After Aaron Mooy’s Retirement


Aaron Mooy’s retirement has undeniably created a conspicuous void in the Socceroos midfield. A position that Aiden O’Neill, the former Melbourne City luminary, is fervent to secure.

For the initial time following stalwart Mooy’s retirement declaration in the pallor of late June, the Socceroos prepare to spring into play this Sunday with adversaries, Mexico, in Dallas. For O’Neill, who proudly unfurled his Socceroos career in March, this game signifies yet another opportunity to validate his prowess to national coach Graham Arnold. His objective: to affirm his worthiness of a perennial role within the heart of the Socceroos, a position that once belonged to Mooy, the erstwhile Celtic dynamo.

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“On Aaron Mooy’s departure, a rewiring of the team inevitably follows. Yet, I believe the calibre of potential replacements no doubt lends to a thrilling future,” remarked O’Neill, a Queenslander, earlier on Tuesday. “Mooy’s contribution to Australian football, coupled with his illustrious international career, was nothing short of extraordinary. His legacy continually pushes us all to endeavour to match his standards. To be as commendable a player as Mooy is a collective ambition.”

Boosting O’Neill’s prospects is his commendable commencement with his career at Belgium’s Standard Liege. Despite the club’s current precarious position in the second-to-last spot on the ladder, accruing merely three points via draws, O’Neill’s contribution has been noteworthy. He has left his mark on every one of their six matches to date, only ever substituted on one occasion.

“I’ve been regularly accruing playtime on the field, which has boosted my fitness tenfold,” O’Neill acknowledged. “Sadly, luck hasn’t been on our side in quite a few games. However, as a club of Standard Liege’s magnitude, our ambitions are always geared towards laying claim to victory. Reversing our fortunes is on our agenda. The team is striving, and soon enough, we will emerge triumphant.”

Reflecting on his tenure in the English Premier League as a teen prodigy for Burnley, O’Neill attributes his move to Belgium as the “challenge” he sought after five seasons in the A-League with Central Coast, Brisbane Roar and titans City.

“In line with the dynamic nature of football, your team won’t always be the dominant force,” O’Neill Contemplated, “Yet, such trials are precisely what I seek – a personal and professional challenge that would refine me as much as it would my skills. Belgian football is an exhilarating new chapter and one that I am eagerly embracing. A player’s evolution is imperative. Upon witnessing the faster pace and better time management on the ball in international matches and the Belgian league alike, I realised the true essence of growth in football – constant improvement is key. Especially against the wealth of talent in the Belgian league,” O’Neill concluded.