EXCLUSIVE: Hull City’s Richard Garcia says a year out through injury has reinvigorated him and, after Holger Osieck picked the attacking midfielder in 2010, he’s now eyeing a Socceroo return.
After debuting in 2008 for Australia and playing at the World Cup, Garcia continued where he’d left off when Osieck was appointed shortly after South Africa 2010.
The one-time West Ham player was a regular in Osieck’s first five Socceroo squads and was clearly in the national team manager’s plans.
But an untimely ACL injury, on the eve of the Qatar 2011, dashed any chances of adding to his 14 caps.
Other players took their chance and Garcia, now 30, was forced into a long layoff from club and country.
It’s been a year from hell in Hull for the versatile attacking midfielder but in December last year he was passed fit and returned as a late sub in a 1-0 win over Coventry.
However, under new Tigers player-turned-manager Nick Barmby, Garcia has found himself on the outer as the team chase a spot in the Championship play-offs.
Though the Socceroo isn’t moaning about it – he admitted it’s all part of football – he is keen to play regularly again.
The West Australian has been cooling his heels in the reserves but now he’s fit, Garcia said he felt as fresh as he was when he first forced his way into the national under Pim Verbeek.
“The comeback’s been good. I haven’t had any problems or setbacks, which is great. I’ve come off the bench a few times but chances here at Hull are limited, which of course is a bit frustrating,” he told au.fourfourtwo.com.
“It wasn’t an easy process,” he said of his injury. “But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“And I feel physically and mentally stronger now so in some ways it’s been a blessing in disguise.”
Garcia, now into his fifth season with City, has built a strong reputation after helping the club rise to Premier League status.
Prior to his Tigers era, Garcia played over 100 times at Colchester and was learnt his football trade at West Ham where he played alongside the likes of Michael Carrick and Joe Cole.
“I tend to stick around at clubs,” he said with a laugh. “We got promoted in my first year and we had some good times in the premier league and we’re still fighting to get back there.
“It’s good being well respected at the club and being part of such a club.”
It is thought he’d favour remaining in Europe. But if you read his Twitter feed, many fans back home would like to see him emulate what Harry Kewell (Melbourne Victory) and Brett Emerton (Sydney FC) have done and give the A-League a crack.
And he’s not entirely ruling that either.
“Definitely I keep an eye on the A-League over here. It’s on TV weekly," he said.
“I’m sure they [Kewell and Emerton] are happy. It’s one of those things where most Australian players if given the opportunity would want to come home and play in front of the Australian public.
“We, as international players, always enjoyed playing in front of our Aussie supporters so I don’t think it’d be any different plying your trade there.”
And at his age, he’s determined to force his way back and be given another shot at green and gold glory.
Osieck shares that vision - if Garcia can find regular game time.
“Holger said some nice things about me when I got injured and to his credit has kept track of me since I was injured," Garcia said.
“I want to be involved in these World Cup qualifiers and the lead up to the World Cup, hopefully.
“I’m still a young guy and I’m very ambitious to play a lot more for my country.”
And the Tiger favourite cited the return of UAE-based Socceroo Mark Bresciano – two years his senior – as an example of players who’ve been out of the national set up returning with renewed vigour.
“Sometimes stepping away can be a good thing. It makes you hungry.”
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