Socceroos rocked by devastating news before Argentina clash at World Cup

Bailey Wright, pictured here in action for the Socceroos.
The Socceroos are rallying around Bailey Wright (second from right) at the World Cup. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The Socceroos are rallying around defender Bailey Wright after the tragic death of his mother-in-law on Thursday. Wright revealed in the aftermath of Australia's 1-0 win over Denmark at the World Cup that he'd taken the field in Qatar not knowing whether she was still alive.

The 30-year-old said he'd received a text message from his wife informing him of the dire situation and was close to tears after the game. Wright's mother-in-law died on Thursday evening (AEDT), just hours after he made his World Cup debut.

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"He's devastated," Socceroos coach Graham Arnold said about Wright. "And as I just said to him, 'it's crazy these things in life, something special happens and something gets taken away'.

"But Bailey, he's OK. The whole team and everyone is caring for his wife but Bailey is OK."

Speaking after Australia's win over Denmark which sent them into the knockout stage for just the second time in history, Wright was very emotional. He said he hadn't even told his teammates about what was going on.

"I have just got to dedicate this to my wife and, bless her, her mum," Wright told reporters. "I am not sure she is still with us. So it's for them at a really tough time back home.

"They have made this possible for me to be here and live one of my dreams. I dedicate that to her, I don't know if she is still with us.

"It's something I have kept to myself. We have all got a lot going on. Job to do, isn't it. You have got to be professional all of the time."

Bailey Wright, pictured here celebrating after the Socceroos' win over Denmark at the World Cup.
Bailey Wright (R) celebrates after the Socceroos' win over Denmark at the World Cup. (Photo by Hector Vivas - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Defender Milos Degenek said the Socceroos were helping Wright and his family any way they could. He said: "His family and his wife's family, especially for his wife with two kids, it's something that no-one wants to wish upon anyone.

"It's a very hard moment for her and for him as well. He knows that we are his second family and we are going to be behind him.

"And anything that any of us can do or the federation can do at this moment, I know that Football Australia will do and we as a team, as a brotherhood, are going to do the same. If anyone of us can help, we will.

"It just shows you that what we as footballers go through sometimes and what we put out there as well it's not just a couple of training sessions a week and a 90-minute game where 40,000 come and watch you and you get paid big dollars. It's a lot more emotions and a lot more things are involved in football than just playing."

Wright came on late in the game against Denmark, making his World Cup debut. He was part of the Socceroos squad at the 2014 World Cup but never got on the field.

"We have always had a sense of togetherness that your mate has got your back, it's your brother, 11 brothers out there," he said. "It's difficult to really actually put it into words what it feels like, it's a real feeling ... we have got through the group. We know that we have got each other and we will always have each other's backs and that's pretty incredible."

Who do the Socceroos play next at the World Cup?

The Socceroos will play Argentina in the round of 16 on Saturday night in Qatar (6am Sunday morning AEDT). A win would mark the first time in history that the Socceroos have ever made the quarter-finals of a World Cup.

"It's going to be a difficult game, probably against the best footballer ever to grace the game," Degenek said of Argentina superstar Lionel Messi. "Apart from that, it's 11 against 11. There's not 11 Messis, there's one.

"We know their squad is full of stars ... it's a squad that's immaculate. I always love Messi and I think he's the greatest to ever play the game.

"It's not an honour to play against him because he is just a human as we all are. It's an honour to be in the round of 16 at a World Cup, that's the honour in itself."

The FIFA World Cup 2022 is on SBS and SBS on Demand.

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