Mates Irvine and Maclaren unite in Russia

Ben McKay
Jackson Irvine (22) and Jamie Maclaren (11) have known each other since they were very young

When Jamie Maclaren earned his World Cup reprieve, called into camp and then picked to travel to Russia for the tournament, two people celebrated more than most.

One was Jackson Irvine, who was delighted to be going to the World Cup himself, and even more so to be doing it with his great mate.

The other was Irvine's mum, Danielle, who saw the pair grow up together playing football in Melbourne and dug into her archives.

She plucked out a photo - dated September 6, 2005 - of the 12-year-olds together in a Victorian state side.

"We've known each other since we kids kids. Like actually kids," Irvine told AAP.

"My mum has a picture of us together as Vic schoolboys. That was the first time we played together."

A friendship grew despite the pair living on opposite sides of Melbourne.

Maclaren's junior club was Green Gully in Melbourne's northwest; Irvine played in the football heartland of Melbourne's southeast.

That's about where the differences end.

"Our dads were both Scotsmen and came out around a similar time," Irvine said.

"Ironically our mums are both Maltese as well. We've got a lot of connections, we both have older sisters the same age.

"We kept crossing paths along the way.

"We both went over to the UK at 15.

"Jamie played for Scotland and I played for Scotland, to the Young Socceroos. It's actually crazy how our careers have paralleled."

History off the field has brought them closer on it.

Within 30 seconds of coming on as a substitute against the Czech Republic in last week's friendly, Irvine almost found Maclaren with an over-the-top ball.

Maclaren cited Irvine as one of the reasons he made the World Cup squad, suggesting their synchronicity in training may have impressed coach Bert van Marwijk.

"When you've got a certain understanding and you know the way you want to play and how they want to play, the sort of runs they make, it brings our your best qualities," Irvine said.

"It's great. I'm so happy for the guy on a personal level. It's great to see him in the squad."