Sport Football Enter Mile Jedinak – may the force be with him

Enter Mile Jedinak – may the force be with him

Mile Jedinak
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Mile Jedinak was announced as Australia’s new football captain on Wednesday. So who is the man that will be wearing the armband while we’re being thumped in Brazil?

Is he made of the right stuff?

He’s been captain of Crystal Palace since 2012, and led them to promotion to the English Premier League. He played every game as the Eagles finished 11th in their first season back in the top flight. Palace manager Tony Pulis recently described the 29-year-old as a “real soldier”.

He also played in Turkey for two and a half years – that alone takes a considerable amount of mental fortitude.

Jedinak has been known to defuse bombs. Photo: Getty

Mile Jedinak?

Pronounced Meal-ay Yedinak. Those who rarely veer outside the footy/league lanes will thank us for that one when you’re down the pub.

Michael John ‘Mile’ Jedinak is of Croatian descent, but was born in Camperdown in Sydney.

The force runs moderately in this one… but he works hard

His nickname, well Mile is a nickname, but his other nickname is ‘Jedi’, on account of his surname rather than any ability to harness the force on the park.

If we were to adopt a Star Wars comparison, he’d be one of the Jedis who bit the dust early on in Revenge of the Sith. It’s great he’s holding his own in one of the world’s best leagues, but he’s no Yoda, Vader or Obi-Wan. “The force runs moderately in this one… but he works hard…”

On the park, he’s a central midfielder. He’s strong, passes well and is a danger from distance, although he’s not a regular on the scoresheet. At six foot two and a half, he more than holds his own in the air.

Does he want to be captain?

Box ticked – Jedinak thrives on responsibility, and will welcome the chance to lead his country.

“It is a great title to hold and a huge honour,” he said in February. “If you are ever called upon to take that you will do the best you can and lead by example.”

The bloke is completely and utterly immense mentally.

His former boss Ian Holloway was a big fan. “If a bomb dropped right next to him he wouldn’t panic,” Holloway said.

“He could see it was ticking, he’d make sure he got everyone else out – he would lead the situation and get it sorted. End of story.

“He gives immense strength to everyone else. The bloke is completely and utterly immense mentally.”

Where’s he been?

He started out at Sydney United, taking loan spells with Croatians NK Varteks and South Coast United. He joined the Central Coast Mariners in 2006, and then moved to Turkey with Genclerbirligi (we can’t help you with pronunciation here). He was briefly loaned to Antalyaspor before Championship outfit Crystal Palace came knocking.

He made his international debut in 2008 against Singapore, and has been capped 43 times for the Socceroos, scoring four goals.

He’s more driven than a VW Golf

Mile Jedinak and Natalie Peacock in 2009. Photo: Getty 

After leading Crystal Palace into the promised land, Jedinak spoke of how he wanted to hold on to what he had earned.

“I am not going to let that slip,” he said. “I will be kicking and screaming to the last day, to the last minute, to the last second, to the last whistle of this season.

“I’ve worked extremely hard to get to the Premier League and did it in a relatively difficult way but now that I am here I don’t want to change that for the world.”

Is he hard enough?

He suffered a broken nose, eye socket and cheek bone, during a 2013 Championship fixture against Huddersfield, leaving then-Palace manager Holloway to declare he looked like “he’d gone 15 rounds with Mike Tyson”.

There were early fears Jedinak could lose sight in his eye. He missed just two games, and returned to the field wearing a rather nifty eye mask (see the picture above) that left him looking like a super-hero. To Palace supporters, he is.

It hasn’t come easy

He moved to Croatia as a teen to try his luck as a professional footballer with Varteks, only to return home after failing to break into the team. He joined the Central Coast Mariners but again struggled for a break and had to supplement his income by working in his uncle’s office.

“I do remember those days really well,” he told The Guardian in January. “I never even thought about the future to be honest. It was all about getting work done and then my head was focused on the Mariners.”

He’s a lucky man

Jedinak married Sydney model Natalie Peacock in 2010.

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