Socceroos legend Stan Lazaridis has disclosed his tense relationship with former national team manager Guus Hiddink, claiming his manager “tried to break him” in a pre-tournament fitness camp.
Speaking on the Fox Football Podcast with Adam Peacock, the former Birmingham City and West Ham midfielder revealed his displeasure at being labelled as ‘The Greek’ when being described by his manager at the time.
“What I didn’t like was that he was saying ‘I’m going to break that Greek’”.
Offended by the comments, the puzzled Lazardis talked about his confusion being selected while at the same time being singled out for his Greek heritage.
“Well, I’m Australian. I’m not Greek. I’m Greek background but I’m representing the country, so why would you go and say that you’re going to break that Greek? And why is it a personal thing?”
“We didn’t really speak, I reckon he spoke about five words to me in the whole year.”
Speaking about his time during the 2006 World Cup Finals tournament in Germany, Lazaridis questioned a few of his managers’ decisions during the controversial Round of 16 match versus Italy, in which Australia was eliminated from the tournament.
“You know, 10 men (Italian defender Marco Materazzi being sent off in the 50th minute) and not making any changes. He can say he was waiting for extra time but I’m sorry you don’t wait for extra time — you make it happen then.”
“We were playing with eight midfielders and I was on the bench and we had injuries. Harry (Kewell) wasn’t fit, Brett Emerton wasn’t fit, and it was crying out for myself or Johnny (Aloisi) to come on. We might as well lose 3-0.”
Lazaridis concluded by stating that his frustration with the manager was separate to the effort placed by himself and the team during the 2006 World Cup.
“If we’re going back and asking whether I was personal, I was always about Australia — that was first and foremost. I was close with all the boys with Mark Bresciano and Vince Grella and I was really happy.”
“Look, just on a personal thing it was just something between Guus and I and that’s okay, it was just one of those moments.”