There's something about Harry

by Ben Somerford on Sep 16, 2011

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If you weren't sold on the marquee qualities of Harry Kewell, then the past few days surely would have convinced you. It's been Harry-mania in Melbourne and smack bang during the AFL finals too.

Actually, Harry-mania hasn't been isolated to Victoria, with the Adelaide Advertiser running a story with Kewell's picture on their back page earlier this week.

Fox Sports has also been giving Kewell a fair dose of attention, with a live cross to his first training session. Yes his first training session!

There's no doubt Kewell is a top footballer, but so is Sydney FC's new marquee signing Brett Emerton. So why the discrepancy in attention?

Well, if you witnessed one of Kewell's several press conferences since he landed on Australian shores on Monday, you'd know why. He's not your typical modern day sportsman. The way he speaks, there's something a bit different about it (and I'm not talking about that Pommy accent nor his constant use of the word 'again').

He doesn't give regulation answers, rather he teeters on the controversial but almost gets away with it. For this very reason, he creates headlines, divides opinions and generates discussion.

That's all pretty good news for the A-League in a time when it's sadly struggling for attention.

For instance, in Monday's press conference which was essentially a basic introduction meet and greet, Kewell managed to reveal he actually would have preferred to sign with Sydney FC. He didn't need to say it, nor was he pressed into it, he just revealed it.

Another example was when The Age's Michael Lynch asked Kewell about whether he'll be fit in time for selection for the next month's World Cup qualifier against Oman or whether we should write him off for that match. Kewell snidely responded “You'll probably write me off”.

It was subtle, but it was a dig at those journalists who have written him off in the past, even if it was slightly out of context given Lynch was referring to his fitness level for the one specific qualifier after a clubless off-season.

It seems that's the way Harry has always been too. He's not happy just to tow the party line, he's always got something to say and he's happy to say it.

In many ways it's refreshing in the modern age where sportspeople churn out the cliches, to actually have someone who's willing to put themselves on the line.

The thing is, I don't think Kewell does this intentionally, it's just in his nature. And, personally, I for one don't mind it.

However, now he's back in Australia, the spotlight will be placed on Kewell much more than when he was overseas. The scrutiny will increase tenfold.

Given his nature, it's likely he'll attract as many critics as he does admirers over the next few years at the Victory. But that's good for the A-League at a time when generating attention and publicity is priceless. And already he's making an impact.