The stunning elevation of youngster Riley McGree to the 30-man Caltex Socceroos squad has drawn comparisons to another Australian teenage prodigy.
And Ange Postecoglou says the Reds teen is a “good chance” of making the final 23-man squad for two huge upcoming qualifiers against Iraq and UAE.
McGree’s selection is a remarkable story, considering he’s played just 12 games in the Hyundai A-League this season.
But the 18-year-old has impressed enough with his tenacious midfield displays for the struggling Reds to convince Postecoglou to hand him his first senior national team call-up.
If McGree makes the final 23-man squad, he could make his Caltex Socceroos debut against Iraq on March 23 in Tehran.
And it was in the same city 20 years ago that the career of Australian legend Kewell took off, when the fresh-faced 17-year-old scored in a World Cup qualifier against Iran in front of around 100,000 fans.
That was the catalyst for an incredible career for both club and country for Kewell. Two decades on, could history be about to repeat itself?
The rise of Riley
*Born in South Australia, McGree started playing football as a four-year-old in his hometown of Gawler, playing eight years with the Eagles.
*In 2013 he was a part of the South Australian NTC program for the best young players in the state.
*McGree also made two appearances for the Australian under-17 team in 2013, scoring three goals.
*The following year McGree was signed to Adelaide United’s youth squad, making 27 appearances over two years in the NYL.
*Made his Hyundai A-League debut off the bench in a 0-0 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 24 of the 2015/16 Season.
*In August 2016, signed a one-year senior contract with the Reds.
*Scored his first Hyundai A-League goal in Adelaide’s 2-2 draw against Wellington Phoenix in Round 18 of the 2016/17 Season.
*Selected in a 30-man Caltex Socceroo squad for two FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Iraq and UAE.
Ange on McGree
“I just think he’s a really exciting talent. I watched him from the first couple of games he played and he kind of makes you stand up and notice him straight away for a young guy.
“He’s been playing not in his best position for his club who are going through a difficult time and he’s shown a real good temperament and an ability to tackle the task in front of him.
“Riley is a good chance to make the 23. He’s not there just to put his name amongst the 30 players, he’s in the frame.”
The Caltex Socceroos tackle UAE in a crucial World Cup Qualifier in Sydney on March 28. Click here for tickets