Rogic, first-time Roos remember Brazil

Ben McKay
Tom Rogic is one of several Socceroos making their first appearance at a World Cup in Russia

So crestfallen was Tom Rogic by his omission from Australia's 2014 World Cup squad, the Socceroos midfielder couldn't bring himself to watch his compatriots in Brazil.

The Celtic star was earmarked for a breakout tournament under Ange Postecoglou but simply couldn't get his body right in time.

He was axed at the final hurdle, and left Australia's training base in Vitoria before completely checking out.

"I needed to get away from football and I did," he told AAP.

"I flew from Brazil to Glasgow to see some specialists and then I had a three-week holiday.

"I went back home to see my family in Canberra and with my girlfriend at the time, we went up to Hamilton Island."

Rogic is one of several Socceroos finally experiencing sport's biggest stage after fate intervened on previous occasions.

Robbie Kruse and Trent Sainsbury should be competing at their second tournaments, but for similar injury woes last time around.

Gloveman Brad Jones was denied a place at the 2010 event when his son was diagnosed with leukaemia, necessitating his departure.

The Socceroos have undergone serious renewal since the Brazil event, when they finished bottom of a stacked group behind the Netherlands, Spain and Chile.

In all, just six players have World Cup experience.

Tim Cahill and Mark Milligan are undertaking their fourth campaigns, Mile Jedinak is saddling up for his third, while Mat Ryan, Mat Leckie and Massimo Luongo are backing up from Brazil for tournament No.2.

While injury and poor health intervened for some players, others weren't yet shining brightly enough.

Tomi Juric was just beginning a form upswing that would see him join the Asian Cup-winning squad in 2015.

Back in his hometown, playing with Western Sydney, Juric didn't bear grudges after missing out.

"I didn't watch every match but I watched what I could, the countries that interest me," he said.

"I didn't think it should have been me there. I thought, if not, doesn't matter.

"Now I'm hungry. 100 per cent. It's what every player dreams of."

Others weren't yet on the radar.

Aaron Mooy had yet to break through and Jackson Irvine was considered too raw despite captaining Australia at youth level and winning a sole senior cap.

Aziz Behich, Josh Risdon and Milos Degenek made debuts two years prior but were overlooked.

Andrew Nabbout was out of favour at Melbourne Victory.

Daniel Arzani was so young he couldn't even get a driver's license.

Without playing responsibilities, the class of 2018 spent the Brazil tournament in vastly different ways.

"I was packing up my stuff from Sydney and taking it to Melbourne," Mooy said, having agreed to join new franchise Melbourne Heart after finding game time hard to come by at Western Sydney.

"I didn't watch every single match. I'd watch all the Australian games and then the bigger teams."

Given he wasn't a serious prospect for the team, Mooy said he "wasn't devastated" to be watching from home.

"I knew if I kept improving, the Socceroos would come so that's what I was trying to do," he said.

Arzani was 15 and away with Australia's under-16 squad.

"I was on a Joeys trip in France. It was nice, amazing actually. We didn't get to watch much but we streamed a little bit," he said.

"I watched a lot more of the 2010 World Cup than 2014. One of my favourite moments was the (Giovanni) van Bronckhorst goal (for the Netherlands in the semi-final against Uruguay). That ball, people scored crazy goals with it."

Degenek and Nabbout, confessed World Cup junkies, were aided in their World Cup addiction by surgery.

"It was a nasty one. I had a pain two or three days leading up to it and then I had very bad pain and was told 'your appendix is very close to bursting, you might want to get it out'," Nabbout said.

"I was in recovery for the whole World Cup and I was watching as many as I could, waking up in the middle of the night."

Degenek, who was playing in Germany at the time, said four years to the day of Australia's opener against France on Saturday he was going under the knife to cure a long-running ailment.

"On the 16th of June four years ago I woke up after my operation on my achilles," he said.

"I was in hospital in Switzerland after my operation. I had an bed and a TV and I watched all the games every day.

"I had nothing else to do, I wasn't allowed to walk so that's all I did. Really I just love football. It's my biggest passion. I wouldn't do it if didn't love it."