EXCLUSIVE: Liverpool keeper and Greek FA target Dean Bouzanis is hoping for a Young Socceroos' training camp call-up with his agent saying the teen wants to play for Australia rather than Greece.
In a huge boost to the Socceroos' long-term stocks, Bouzanis's agent Terry Palapanis confirmed to au.fourfourtwo.com today that the Aussie-born 18-year-old wants to give his all for the green and gold despite turning out for the Greek youth team last season.
"He feels he's Aussie so the whole thing with the Greeks has just melted away. He was only 17 and wanted some international experience last year," Palapanis said.
"He wants to show Australia what he can do and his hoping to be invited to the Young Socceroo training camp in April to do just that."
Jan Versleijen's Young Socceroos have qualified for the World U/20 Cup in Egypt starting this September. Their next training camp is believed to be in April. Current number one is A-League squad keeper Andrew Redmayne from Central Coast.
However, more importantly, Bouzanis could well prove to be the solution to a worrying long-term dilemma over who will take over from current number one Mark Schwarzer.
Schwarzer, 36, has made it clear that if Australia reaches the next World Cup, he will bow out. With no clear successor making a strong claim, there is likely to be some jostling for the spot with Adam Federici, Nathan Coe and Eugene Galekovic all in the frame. None is clear favourite.
Now the hugely talented Bouzanis can be added to this list, and with his age and potential could possibly be a regular in the national team for at least three World Cup cycles.
Some of the best judges in Europe think he has the potential. Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has described Bouzanis as the best goalkeeper in the world for his age. What's more, the Spaniard's made it clear he feels Bouzanis is the long-term replacement for first team regular Pepe Reina.
If and when that scenario unfolds is unclear - particularly as Reina is still only 26 and Benitez's future is still subject to conjecture - but should Bouzanis break through at Anfield over the next few seasons, it would give the Sydney-born shot-stopper a clear edge over his rivals and provide the Socceroos with a keeper at the highest level.
By 2012, Bouzanis will be 22 and is hoping, Palapanis added, to represent Australia at the London Games.
Last year, Aussie national coach Pim Verbeek held a meeting with Bouzanis at Anfield in a sign that the Dutchman sees the youngster as an important part of Australia's future.
Bouzanis's current deal at Anfield runs out on June 30 next year but it's expected that the club will offer the teen a long-term deal (rumoured to be a five year deal at around $20,000 per week) in the near future.