St Mirren midfielder Keanu Baccus has spoken of his delight at being named in Australia’s World Cup squad.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who joined the Buddies from Western Sydney Wanderers in the summer, made his international debut in September as a second-half substitute in a friendly against New Zealand.
Baccus was given the good news about Qatar by Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold and he will be the first serving St Mirren player to go to a World Cup.
Ahead of the Buddies’ cinch Premiership game against St Johnstone on Wednesday night, Baccus said: “I didn’t know whether to cry, smile or laugh.
“I had a big smile on my face, it was amazing that it happened.
“It is something I have wanted since I started playing soccer at five years old, so it is a great feeling.
“I got the call from the head coach (on Monday) late afternoon, inviting to me to go to Qatar, so it is an amazing feeling.
“I was a bit anxious, I just wanted to know if it was a yes or no but it was great that it was a yes and I am over the moon.
“My family and friends are so happy for me. They have decided to go now – hopefully we can get them over.”
Baccus believes his World Cup call-up has vindicated his gamble to up sticks and move to Paisley.
He said: “I took the chance to come over here from Australia, I left my family and it worked out well.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone, the players, staff, everyone who has helped and who made this possible.
“I had the chance to go to a different country when I was 21, 22, but I didn’t think I was ready. I was playing some good football at that time and was on the brink of the national team but I said no.
“I had this chance and I thought I was old enough to leave my family – it was now or never.
“The gaffer here called me, told me his plan and it has all worked out. He is a big part of me being chosen.”
Buddies boss Stephen Robinson believes Baccus’ inclusion in the Australia squad – team-mate Ryan Strain missed out – is a huge boost to St Mirren.
“I am delighted for Baccus,” the Northern Irishman said.
“Disappointed for Ryan, he was unfortunate not to get in but delighted for Keanu, he has fully deserved it and he is a pleasure to work with. He has added a lot to us and it is a credit to everyone at the football club in terms of recruitment.
“We now have a team to support at the World Cup so it is great. Our fans have an interest – they will be wanting the Socceroos to win now.”
Robinson, whose side will be aiming to bounce back from their 3-2 weekend defeat by Ross County when St Johnstone visit Paisley, revealed defender Richard Tait required a further two weeks’ rest as he looks to overcome a groin injury.
“They are not going to operate at this stage but he does need a full two weeks’ rest,” Robinson said.
“You don’t rush onto surgery if you don’t need it. The specialist does not feel surgery is required at this stage.
“He has had an injection, we are hoping that will settle him down.”