Preston North End’s Bailey Wright admits that he is still pinching himself after being named in Australia’s squad for the World Cup in Brazil.
Speaking exclusively to PNE.Com from the Socceroos training base in Vitoria, Brazil, the central defender says he is still struggling to come to terms with his inclusion.
“I was shocked to be included in the 30, so to now be in the 23, to be at the World Cup, I’m still pinching myself now, I just can’t believe it, it’s a dream come true for myself,” said an elated Wright.
“I’ve always had that thought in me, that I’m going to work hard and be in the 23, that’s just the sort of person I am.
“Whether I thought it would happen or not, I just wasn’t too sure.
“I always tried to work hard and to be myself and that’s managed to work out well for me, but there’s a lot more hard work to go, and now I’m in the 23, I want a taste for it and I want to be on that pitch, and try and get myself into the 11, I’ve got to continue working hard.
“So in a way it was a shock to be in the 23, but in another way it was something that I was prepared for and I made sure I gave a good account of myself, to be amongst it and to get in.”
His inclusion in the final Socceroos party for their Group B clashes against European heavyweights Spain, Holland and South American’s Chile, came after a tense few days which saw the original cast of 30 players whittled down to 27, before a further four were told their 2014 World Cup dreams were over.
And Bailey is perfectly aware of what is required of him to make a mark in this group of players and is revelling in the experience.
Wright continued: “I’ve had plenty of feedback with what’s expected of me individually and how I’m doing which is good.
“It’s been an awesome experience already, even when I was in the 30.
“I’m learning every day from all the boys that are here, who are experienced and have played at the highest level and learning from all the coaches, so it’s been awesome and now I’m going to experience a World Cup, so that’s a whole new thing and one that I’m very fortunate to be able to be a part of.”
Wright made his debut for the Socceroos in a training camp game on Monday, playing the full match in a 2-0 victory over local Club side Clube Parana.
But the 21-year-old has not had the honour of pulling on the famous green and gold jersey for battle just yet – although he hopes that will change when Australia face Croatia in their final pre-tournament warm-up game on Friday, before the real action gets underway.
“It was a training kit we played in so I haven’t put the green and gold shirt on just yet! explained Wright.
“But again, it’s good to head out and play with the boys and it’s still playing for your country isn’t it, so it was pretty special and it was nice to get out and play a proper game with everyone.
“I’ve got to knuckle down and work hard if I want to play against Croatia and see what happens from there, give a good account of myself and you never know where it can take you, because I never thought I’d be where I am now, so you never know where it can continue to take you.
“Getting that first cap would obviously be a dream come true, to get out on the pitch, and properly be a part of it all, so that’s the target for me to get myself there.
“But if I can’t do that, I’m just going to enjoy the experience and work hard, and make sure I give it everything and have no regrets.”
Wright’s phone has been red hot since he was confirmed as being in the squad, with well wishes from friends, family, Simon Grayson, team-mates and fans alike filtering their way through to Brazil.
And the North End Academy product is truly humbled and appreciative of the support.
“It’s so nice getting messages off so many people and seeing how many people are supporting you and are proud of what you’re doing, it really hits home,” added Bailey.
“It makes you realise that people are appreciating what you’re doing, so it’s nice to get feedback not just from friends and family, but also fans.”
And he finished with this message for everyone back in the UK.
“A big thank you to everyone who’s helped me over the last few years and who’ve allowed me to get to where I am and I hope everyone can look forward to the weeks ahead and enjoy it just as much as me.”