When news out of Melbourne today saw the Socceroos most successful left boot Harry Kewell announce his retirement at seasons end, it became the most recent of a string of high profile retirements both from an international perspective, as well as across all forms of the game.
Mark Schwarzer - capped 109 times for the Green and Gold and arguably Australia's best goalkeeper (sorry Mark Bosnich), Brett Emerton - a 94 game veteran on the right side of midfield, Mile Sterjovski - 43 caps including starts against Brazil and Croatia in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and now Harry Kewell - who's 17 national goals in 56 appearances speak for themselves, all hung up the boots (and gloves) in the past 6 months, and the question that results is whether it brings about the end of a 'Golden Generation' in Australian football, or is simply the beginning of a new dawn for our national side?
One could argue fairly reasonably for the latter, and you need only look to the 'replacements', and I use that term loosely, in line to make a name for themselves under Ange Postecoglou's long awaited youth policy.
Leading the brigade are A-League exports Mat Ryan, Mitch Langerak, Robbie Kruze, Tommy Oar and Tom Rogic, all of whom ply their trades at big clubs across Europe. Ryan and Langerak are two of Australia's most exciting goalkeeping talents in years, while Kruze is already hailed as a future star, with silky footwork and a wicked turn of pace he can provide venom down the right touchline and around the 18 yeard box. Tommy Oar and Tom Rogic are works in progress, however Oar's class on the left wing and Rogic's talent through the middle of the park cannot be underestimated, and the public (along with the Socceroos hierachy) are hoping for big things from the talented youngsters.
It will not be immediate, however with time and experience each of them can create their own legacy in the hallowed golden jersey, and will spearhead successful Socceroos sides for years to come.
Change is never easy. We are all creatures of habit and we all like what we know. But its in times like these that we need to be less sorry that the Golden Age is over, and be happier that it ever was. What the retiring 'Roos have done for football in the Australian culture is unforgettable, as they nurtured the game and grew the game through each success the side had. Our current situation, in regards to players and squad depth, is all due to our departing comrads, and we owe them nothing but thanks. The Australian Socceroos of old were amazing, but the current Socceroos will be bigger and better than ever.