Milligan’s Socceroos story not over
WORLD Cup star Mark Milligan looks set to play on for the Socceroos, as he finally looks set to fulfil his dream of playing in Europe - just shy of his 33rd birthday.
The spotlight will turn to new Socceroos boss Graham Arnold and his decisions on veterans Mile Jedinak, Tim Cahill, Brad Jones and Milligan for January's Asian Cup defence and beyond.
Captain Jedinak declared he would carry on, while Tim Cahill has said nothing on his future, though there is a school of thought that he has unfinished business and may be eyeing off the Asian Cup as his swan song.
Retiring the game's greats is a tough decision for any national team and the Socceroos are no exception, with much of the golden generation's careers ending acrimoniously.
Milligan, who is a free agent after mutually terminating his contract with his Saudi club, had been leaning towards retiring after Russia 2018 but a stellar campaign and strong interest from Europe may see him continue until the Asian Cup before reassessing.
"There were a lot of thoughts about what was next after the World Cup,'' Milligan said.
"A lot of work and preparation goes into the World Cup, it's an exhausting time physically and mentally and the way it went for us made it more difficult - playing some very good football and not progressing.
"There was a lot of emotions in that and I wanted all the emotion to wear off and make a decision on that with a clear mind. I have a few things going through my head at the moment.
"I want to make sure first and foremost that if I do stay on and be available with the national team that I'm fully committed, not do anything half-hearted, don't want to let anyone down, including myself if I am selected in camps in the future.
"I've known Arnie for a long time and worked with him previously, so exciting times ahead for the national team and I just want to make sure that I can help if I'm a part of it.
"I want to make sure all the circumstances are right. There's a lot of things to weigh up, it's not just as simple as - is it finished or not."
Settling at stopper could be the solution to extending his career for club and country, with three strong Russia 2018 performances underlining his quality.
Milligan's lack of an EU passport has cost him moves to Europe, while Melbourne Victory once rejected an offer from Premier League side Crystal Palace.
But having agreed to terminate his deal with Al-Ahli, he has already attracted interest from Europe and could make a call within a fortnight.
"It looks like I'll be going to Europe somewhere, I'll explore all those avenues. I've had a few offers and I'll just weigh up my options," Milligan said.
"We had some talks and it became clear I wasn't in the coach's plans. I didn't seek any payout, the club were very good to me.
"The club were fantastic and I had a wonderful six months there. I was happy to go back (to Al-Ahli). When I was on my way to the World Cup, they signed a new coach."