Filed: Thursday, 7th February 2008
By: Matthew O'Greel
Hammers captain Lucas Neill has defended his decision to travel 24,000 miles in order to represent Australia this week.
The 29-year-old full-back has been criticised this season for making the round-the-world trips in order to represent his country in between West Ham's weekend fixtures.
This week the Sydney-born player flew to Melbourne in order to play for the Socceroos against minnows Qatar - a game which they coasted 3-0 - and is currently on his way back to London to prepare for Saturday's Premier League clash with Birmingham.
Neill's early-season form appeared to suffer occasionally as a result of the long flights - however he has defended his position by stating that qualifying for the 2010 World Cup finals would be a 'massive' achievement for his country.
"We want to make the World Cup," he told footballaustralia.com. "We want to try and get that journey that we had last time, where we had some amazing memories and basically turned football on its head and made it an unbelievable sport [in Australia]."
With regard to the charges that his performances for the Hammers are affected by the long journeys, Neill says that this is not a concern - and that if anything, he is more worried about the lack of sun in London.
"We have got rid of the jet-lag I think - I'm pretty experienced now in the long haul flying," he added.
"The only thing I was worried about when I got back home is just how white I am compared to everyone else! I really miss the Aussie summer and I really havenít had a chance to get under the sun.
"There are some good tans kicking about and the likes of me and Emo [Brett Emerton] are really struggling ..."
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