Jersey Exclusive: Coach Graham Arnold says Tom Rogers is F@#*ng Wizard and that Australia will Lift Asian Cup again

Team JFM  |  Asian Cup  |  2 Months Ago

Tom Rogic belted a ball into the back of the net with such force the sound echoed around the Socceroos’ Asian Cup training ground.


“ Wizard of Oz,” the watching Graham Arnold bellowed. And with that, the Socceroos coach declared Rogic a key contender to win player of the tournament.


“I expect Tommy to be nearly player of the series,” Arnold said later. “You saw him today. He’s in great shape.

“Make Tommy happy, make him smile, miracles will happen.


“Because he is a backyard footballer. To say that, to call him that, he’s an indoor footballer who’s gone into top footballer and he’s doing great at Celtic.”


There’s a reason Rogic has been something of a puppet pulled between a club and a country both eager to get as much of their star playmaker as possible.


The 26-year-old is the most unusual of playmakers, a gangly but graceful presence seemingly too tall for his mazey dribbling runs, and with a penchant for powerful shots that knock the socks off anyone in their path.


Arnold remembers first seeing Rogic play about eight years ago when he signed him to the Central Coast Mariners.


The then teenage Canberra futsal star had already become one of eight worldwide wannabes chosen for a stint at the elite Nike Academy, and Arnold saw a raw talent ready for development.


“Ronny Smith put him forward through to me from Canberra,” Arnold said. “When I had him he was growing into his body. He was this tall skinny guy and a little bit unco­ordinated.


“But he’s a beast now, he’s a big boy. You look at the size of him and how quick his feet are, and his skill factor is incredible.


“Tommy’s a player who just plays what he feels. He’s unpredictable. There’s not many talents that have come through Australia with that type of technique and skill as Tommy.


“He’s a joy to coach.”


Rogic is a joy to watch too, especially when he’s on.


There’s sometimes a sense he’s but scratched the surface of his Socceroos potential, but the reunion with his first professional coach might yet draw more out of a player whose style suits Arnold’s free-flowing set-up to a tee.


Rogic said in October: “He was my first manager in professional football and I certainly learnt a lot from him.


“Fast forward six years and it is safe to say he has learnt a lot and become a better manager, and along the way I feel like I have become a better player as well.


“In my role on the pitch there’s always a certain element of freedom but there’s just a little more emphasis placed upon that.”


Now settled in Socceroos camp in the United Arab Emirates, Rogic is banging them in for fun on the training pitch.


With injuries to some other experienced attacking personnel, there’s a sense this might be his moment to shine.


And Arnold is backing him to contest for player of the tournament four years after teammate Massimo Luongo took out the 2015 honour.


“When you give him freedom and confidence and belief, get him smiling and make him happy, he’s gonna be great,” Arnold said.


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