Australia midfielder Mile Jedinak admits 2013 has been the biggest year of his career, but he has his sights set on a bigger prize in 2014.
The 29-year-old was named player of the year at the Australian Football Awards in Sydney on Wednesday after leading Palace to promotion and playing a key role in the Socceroos’ World Cup qualification.
“Obviously it’s a huge honour and a privilege to receive such an accolade and to be recognised amongst all your peers and Australian football for the year that I had is really very special to me,” Jedinak said of his award at Socceroos training on Thursday.
“It was probably the biggest year in my career to date. It was a long season, it was a tough season that had its ups and downs but in the end it was one that I will look back on and see as a very positive year and one that I would like to follow and build on.”
With new coach Ange Postecoglou at the helm, Jedinak says he does feel pressure to prove himself but admits making the squad for Brazil 2014 is at the forefront of his mind.
“I’d be kidding myself if I said I didn’t want to go to the World Cup,” he said.
“Everyone in camp and players who aren’t in camp at the moment are still pushing for that and I don’t think anyone should be sitting back and resting on anything.
“You should be going all guns blazing to try and get there.
“It is a long way away but you need to be putting in the performances and putting your best foot forward absolutely.”
Jedinak was relegated to the bench behind Mark Milligan at times under former coach Holger Osieck.
While cementing his spot in the starting side for Tuesday’s friendly against Costa Rica in Sydney and beyond is his main focus, the captaincy could also be a possibility.
Asked what it would mean to captain his country, Jedinak replied: “Looking at the future it’s hard to say but obviously if that responsibility was put on you it’s probably the biggest honour you can have, so you’re going to try and do your best to lead by example and do the best you can.”
Tim Cahill and incumbent Lucas Neill are the frontrunners to captain the side against Costa Rica but Jedinak intends to provide leadership whether he is wearing the captain’s armband or not.
“I think when you come into camp you do naturally what you do at your club and I like to lead by example,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of strong characters here who give a lot of the team and a lot of leadership, so it’s always good to have that when you come into camp.”