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Kewell misses Olympics to sign with Galatasaray

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Jul 2008

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Former Liverpool star Harry Kewell has passed up the opportunity to play for Australia at the Beijing Olympics to pursue a club career with Turkey's Galatasaray.

The Australian international has signed a three-year deal with the Turkish giants after five injury-plagued seasons at Anfield.

Galatasaray official Haldun Ustunel said they had reached agreement on all contract issues and Kewell was expected to arrive in Istanbul late on Friday.

“As a result of long-standing efforts, we have come to the point of recruiting a very important player to Galatasaray,” Ustunel told the club's website.

“We have agreed on all issues. He shares our excitement,” said Ustunel, describing Kewell as “a great power”.

The move to Galatasaray has ended any possibility of Kewell being one of Australia's three over-age players at the Beijing Olympics.

Socceroos Archie Thompson, David Carney and Jade North are the three over-age players in the 18-man Australian under-23 squad for next month's Games.

“It's not easy for him as soon as he signs for a new club to ask for four weeks to go to the Olympics,” said Olympics coach Graham Arnold, who played and was an assistant coach at two previous Games.

During his time with Leeds, Kewell played against Galatasaray in the UEFA Cup semi-final in 2000, when he was sent off.

Home-based defender North and Sheffield United wing-back Carney played in Australia's World Cup qualifiers last month, while Melbourne Victory striker Thompson is recovering from a knee injury.

Arnold overlooked the claims of promising former Adelaide United strike pair, Bruce Djite and Nathan Burns, who have signed for overseas clubs.

“They are only 20 and were pretty much in between Olympic age groups and that made it pretty difficult for them,” Arnold said.

North, an Athens Olympian, said: “It is a real honour to be picked to go to Beijing.

“I can't wait to start training with them and get over there. I really hope to go in and lead by example for the younger players.”

After finishing seventh in Athens, North wants to see Australia achieve more this time round, although they are grouped with defending Olympic champions Argentina, Ivory Coast and Serbia.

“I feel like I have been given another chance and I want to go all the way this time,” North said.

Arnold said the three over-age players would bring international experience to the under-23 team in Beijing.

“The three over-age players will bring both attacking flair and strong defence to the team,” he said.

The Australian squad contains seven overseas-based players, while defender Mark Milligan and striker James Troisi are currently uncontracted to overseas clubs.

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