Before you scoff and fire off superlatives this direction, read on.
Little old Adelaide boy Craig Goodwin and Welsh wizard Gareth Bale. Not even on the same planet many would argue.
The two share glaringly obvious similarities as footballers though, in terms of the way they move, how they dart down the touch-line head down with the by-line in sight, how they use their left-foot like a wand, their sheer pace and acceleration, the list goes on.
I do not need to tell you that Bale is far superior in all those facets, that much is clear.
However, our boy Craig has the all the similarities that could see him become Australia’s own answer to Gareth Bale.
Compare the pair.
Goodwin is 24, and according to the FIFA Index and not the official club website (which has him at 1.93m and 83kg), is 180cm tall and 72kg. It’s safe to say he’s not as tall as Mathieu Delpierre.
Bale is 26, 1.83m in height and 74kg.
Almost identical physical characteristics.
For Goodwin to take the next step towards becoming a very good footballer, he needs to become a very good athlete, physically fitter and stronger. Quite skinny and light on the eye, the Reds playmaker is a stark contrast to Bale in terms of physical size and muscular composition. Bale went through a similar physical transformation from his early days at Spurs compared to the complete athlete he is now, and there’s no reason why Goodwin can’t do the same.
Let’s go back to 2009 and Bale finding his feet at Tottenham Hotspur in all his rawness as a 19-year-old.
Here is an extract from The Telegraph at the time:
‘The curse of Tottenham’s Gareth Bale’
As Tottenham look to end a four match run in the league without victory when they face Portsmouth at White Hart Lane this weekend, there is one obvious solution presented to Harry Redknapp – don’t pick Gareth Bale.
The talented Welsh international is fast becoming something of a jonah for the club, an unlucky charm that threatens to anchor the club to the depths of the Premier League.
On 20 occasions over this season and last, Bale has started a league match for Tottenham; not once has he ended on the winning side.
Eight appearances last term garnered four draws and four defeats before injury curtailed his season. This season has been no better.
Bale still holds the record for the longest any player has had to wait for his first victory – two years, three managers, 25 Premier League games and 1,533 minutes after signing for them.
It is fair to say he had a rough time during his early Spurs days. The fans did not particularly warm to him, sentiments that he was overrated, out of his depth, a ‘plague’ on Harry Redknapp’s squad.
The relevance to Goodwin you ask? Humble beginnings.
Bale was not always the superstar he is now. He started slowly, worked his way through the minefield that was the English Premier League as a youngster, found his feet and worked damn hard to announce himself as one of the best players in the world.
Goodwin has had a very good season in the A-League this season, and ever since he made his debut as a teenager for the then-Melbourne Heart a few years back, two words sprung straight to mind.
He can be ‘our’ Bale. Another option on the troubled left-side of the Socceroos that has plagued the national team for years. Better yet, he can be more than an option, he can take over from where Harry Kewell left off.
Some would argue these calls are premature given he was overlooked by Ange Postecoglou on Wednesday in his squad for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers. Ange himself acknowledged that Goodwin was very close and my money is on the fact that he’ll be in Green & Gold against the Greeks come June.
A move overseas beckons for Goodwin at the end of this A-League season and you’d think a move to the Bundesliga or even the Championship would be the perfect stepping stone for the 24-year-old to test himself against the speed and physicality of those leagues.
The comparisons, the images, the stats…they may all be a bit much, but there is serious cause for optimism.
Craig Goodwin is a very good footballer. And I bet if he’s a quarter as good as the Welsh wizard then Australian football fans have can be as optimistic as they please.