Playing for the Socceroos has always been a dream of mine, and with a new coach in Bert Van Marwijk and a World Cup on the horizon, it’s an exciting time for all Aussie footballers.

The Socceroos made massive inroads under Ange and everyone is looking forward to what the future holds for our national team.

I’m really hoping I can be part of that future, but for me, it all starts at club level with Sturm Graz in the Austrian Bundesliga.

After having to fight my way back in, after an interrupted pre season, I’ve managed to play regularly throughout the first-half of the season. 

Coming over to Austria was a big move for me as I looked to make the next step with my football.

I had a difficult first six months; I was rarely playing and there were times while watching my old teammates at Adelaide United go on and win the A-League, that I had doubts as to whether I had made the right decision relocating from Adelaide to Europe.

Luckily, I had my now-wife Shannen over here – she came over fairly early in the piece, which in hindsight played a massive part in me getting through those first six months.  

At weekends I would be sitting at home overthinking everything to do with my football and she would just encourage me to get out and do things to take my mind away from it all.

I had actually gone through a similar challenge even before we moved away from all my family and friends while at Melbourne Victory.  

There were times at Victory I wasn’t getting any real game-time, and learning to deal with that stood in me good stead for my first 6 months in Austria. As every player knows there is nothing worse than training all week and not playing on the weekend and when you are desperate to push on with your career it can be a tough.

Thankfully I’ve been able to play regularly over here in Austria, and can feel the effect it’s had on my football.

The Austrian Bundesliga is a competitive league and European football can subject you too a different set of demands than the A-League which can only help you improve as a player.

Personally, having a World Cup as the carrot at the end of the season slightly changes the dynamic and heightens the need to play as many games for my club as possible.

If you had asked me when I first came over if my main focus was on securing my first cap for the Socceroos, I would have said no.

My focus was to make the step into European football and to break into the Sturm Graz team. I was well aware that there was a number of boxes I needed to tick off before I was able to allow myself to think too much about national selection.

The competition for spots over here is greater than in Australia, and you can never get too caught up thinking about the future because someone is always waiting to take your spot.

Having been called up to the Socceroos squad a few times recently the goal of playing for the national team has become that little bit closer and something that I am working towards every day.

I still remember getting the phone call to let me know that I was being called in to camp in 2016. I was a little bit surprised to be truthful, and you head into camp wide-eyed and excited to be there.

As soon as I arrived into camp, you are instantly made aware of the standards and the culture instilled by Ange was a massive part of his success. Straight away I remember thinking “Wow, this is a different level from club football!”

As soon as you arrive, you quickly realise your mindset has to change from “Oh I’m happy to be here” to “Right, I’m here now and I want to make an impact and push for selection”.

Although I’ve not played yet, every time you get called up for the Socceroos it’s an honour, and I know that to give myself the chance of making my debut I have to continue to work hard.

With a World Cup just around the corner the prospect of that debut and forcing yourself into the national team fold is a massive opportunity.

There is no hiding from the fact that it would be a dream to represent Australia at the 2018 World Cup and chasing that dream is at the forefront of my mind.

Even when receiving that first call to join up with the Socceroos in 2016 the thought pops up in the back of your mind that there’s a World Cup in two years. It is something that has been there ever since, and it’s only getting closer and closer.

Not that I think most football players need any extra motivation but having the World Cup looming is certainly something that makes want to do all those extra little things to help make sure you put yourself in best possible position.

It’s something I’m working hard towards but like anything you’ve got to break it down and not get too caught up in it.

I’ve tried to focus on doing the things that have helped me get to where I am now.

In my case, making sure I am training well at club level, improving my game and playing regular football.

I’m looking forward to working just as hard as I have before.

James Jeggo

James Jeggo is an Australian soccer player who currently plays for Sturm Graz in the Austrian Bundesliga.

James is a member of the Socceroos squad, and made his professional debut for Melbourne Victory in the A-League in 2011 before a stint with Adelaide United (2014-16).