Kewell glad to put injuries behind him

Harry Kewell is finally in a position to show the Liverpool supporters and Rafa Benitez just what he’s capable of doing. His injury problems are pretty much behind him and he’s enjoying his football again: “I’m loving it at the moment. It’s nice to be able to go out there onto the pitch and know you don’t have to think about your groin all the time. I can concentrate on the football and that’s great. I feel fitter and stronger than I have for a while so things are going well for me. Long may it continue.”

Kewell has won over his critics with a long succession of excellent hard-working performances since he came back from the groin problems, but he knows he’s got to keep working hard to keep those critics off his back: “I’ve got big shoulders and I’ve been in this country long enough to know how it works. You have to take the good with the bad. When you’re doing well then that’s great but when things are bad you have to stay strong and get through it. I had an injury problem which stopped me from playing or performing at my top level. There was nothing I could do until it got sorted.” As for those who claimed Kewell had lost interest in playing the game that made him very wealthy, he wants to meet them: “I wish they would come to me and say it to my face but they won’t. They hide behind others. They didn’t know what they were talking about.” Although the strength of his words suggest otherwise, Kewell says the comments didn’t particularly bother him: “I wouldn’t say I was hurt, honestly. I just laughed them off. They are people who probably want to start a war of words with me so they can get their name recognised. Football is a massive thing in this country and nowadays everyone is looking at every aspect of the game. Everyone criticises every part of the game but we get paid good money so we have to take the good with the bad. You are doing a job you love, you get looked after very well and so you have to accept all the other stuff that comes with it.”

For Kewell it wasn’t so much a worry that he’d never play again, more a worry that he’d not be able to get back to the standards he’d set for himself during his earlier career: “I always knew I’d come back but the question in my mind was whether I could be as good as I had been previously. You go through stages where you think the worst and can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I had confident and positive people around me though and they were telling me I’d probably be able to come back an even better player.” Those people still couldn’t stop him from having bad days on a regular basis as he fought his way back to fitness: “Out of ten days you work really hard for eight of them and on the other two you think to yourself ‘stuff this, I can’t be bothered anymore’. You get through those negative days though. Everyone has them. It’s normal.”

Kewell was often played by Gerard Houllier when far from being fit, and
according to the Australian star he found that the toughest part of the
whole nightmare: “You can’t go through life without anything bad ever
happening to you. There are always going to be bad patches and that was
a very bad patch in my life. It’s horrible but it’s even worse when you
are out there playing and you can’t do what you know you should be
doing. It’s far more frustrating but sometimes you have to do a job for
the team and get on with it.”

Rafael Benitez worked hard to help Kewell get through his problems,
despatching him to specialist he knew himself from his previous days in
Spanish football. Kewell says without Rafa’s backing – and that of his
team-mates and family – he may well be out of the game now. He says of
this support: “Without that I’d have been left in a hole and probably
faded away. If you don’t have the backing of your manager and
team-mates then you’re lost. I went home to my family and they were
supportive as well. I’m not a very nice person when I’m injured and I
know that better than anyone. It was difficult but the people I care
about the most stood behind me and I’m thankful for that.”

Kewell now wants to give something back to Rafa for all of his patience
and understanding: “If I want to repay the manager back then I have to
start scoring more goals for him and for the team. I want to do the
things I know I’m capable of doing. That’s what is driving me on. We
are a team and it doesn’t matter who scores. In this day and age you
need to score as many goals as you can because even at 2-0 you’re not
safe, teams can come back from that sort of scoreline. You need to work
as a team to put games away as soon as possible.”

Kewell says his improvement on the pitch has led to more happiness off
the pitch: “I think there’s a link there, definitely. Life is like
that. If you’re happy at work then you’re happy at home. If you leave
home happy then you go to work happy. It works both ways. I’m very
happy at the moment in work and at home. I love being at home with the
kids and seeing them happy and playing. The other day I went for a walk
with my little boy to pick my little girl up. It’s a 20 minute walk but
it was a lovely day and it was nice to do that. I had to carry her back
on my shoulders all the way home, but that’s part and parcel of being a
dad! It’s great.”
Harry was also asked what he thought of his wife Sheree’s appearance on
“I’m a Celebrity” and her comments about him. He seemed embarrassed:
“It was all just a laugh really. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing
one day though when some guy appeared on the television and sort of
hinted that the other players would be standing behind me in the shower
looking at my bum after what my wife said. He must be living in a
deluded world or something. It was ridiculous. One or two of the lads
had a laugh but I think Ant and Dec made a mountain out of a molehill
with it to be honest. When my wife came back from the jungle we had a
laugh about it.”

Looking back on the season, Harry says he and the squad are frustrated
at missed opportunities over the course of the season: “It’s been up
and down. We had a slow start but then recovered to go on a great run.
Unfortunately we then hit a barren spell which you can’t afford to do
if you want to win titles. We’re kicking ourselves because we know we
have thrown it away. We could be in a great position now and we can
only blame ourselves for the fact that we’re not. On the other hand it
makes us more determined for next year.”
One bright light on the horizon is the FA Cup semi against Chelsea,
something Kewell is really looking forward to: “I’ve never been in an
FA Cup semi final so on a personal level it’s going to be a big thing
just to play in that. If we can reach the final then that’ll be even
better. It’s going to be a tough game against Chelsea but we’re not
looking that far ahead yet because there are other matches to play and
win before that one comes along. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a
fantastic occasion though. If we win a Cup and come third then you can
say it has been a good year but our mentality is that we want to win
all the Cups and we want to come first in the Premiership. That’s the
way it has to be at a club like Liverpool.”

After the end of the club season comes the World Cup, and that’s going
to be another first for Kewell. Rafa won’t let the players start
dreaming about that just yet though: “The manager keeps our feet on the
ground where that’s concerned. He’s told us we have to make sure we
keep concentrating on Liverpool until the end of the season and then
start to think about the World Cup. We have a job to do here first.
Liverpool pay our wages and our minds have to be focused on the job
here before we think about the summer.”

For the full interview visit the official Liverpool FC website.