McGlinchey refocussing after realising World Cup dream

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey was back at training this morning, still sporting a smile from ear to ear, after being part of the New Zealand team which qualified for the FIFA World Cup, for the first time in 28 years.

Central Coast Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey was back at training this morning, still sporting a smile from ear to ear, after being part of the New Zealand team which qualified for the FIFA World Cup, for the first time in 28 years.

McGlinchey was born in Wellington while his Scottish father was playing in the New Zealand national competition, and after growing up in Glasgow, the 22-year-old returned to the city of his birth for just the third time in his life, to be in Ricki Herbert-s starting eleven, which booked a spot at next year-s showpiece in South Africa thanks to a 1-nil aggregate win over Bahrain.

"In a way I just feel relieved it-s happened and we-re through," McGlinchey said.

"I just can-t quite get it out of my head that we-re going to the World Cup. I keep thinking there must be another hurdle or something, it-s taking quite a while to sink in."

The diminutive midfielder made his Scottish Premier League debut at just 17 at the 60,000 capacity Celtic Park, but insists this was the best atmosphere he-s ever been a part of.

"It was surreal to walk out there and hear the noise, it was such a big occasion and to get a start I was delighted.

"That was the best atmosphere, and the biggest game I-ve ever played in. There was so much riding on the game.

"If you lost, you were sick, but to get the win was just unbelievable.

"I-m just looking forward to going to the World Cup now," McGlinchey said.

And a world away, on a grey Glasgow Saturday morning, the McGlinchey clan may have som answering to do with their neighbors, after raucous celebrations at their son-s achievement.

"They-re delighted," said McGlinchey.

"It was 7am when the game was on and the whole family went down to my mum and dad-s to watch it.

"There was champagne popped at 9o-clock in the morning once we had won, and they-re delighted for me."

The World Cup hero will return to the Central Coast lineup this Saturday as they complete a six week tour of duty away from home with a trip to Dairy Farmers Stadium to take on North Queensland Fury, and McGlinchey hopes the experience of the past week, will hold him in good stead for the rest of the Hyundai A-League season.

"I-m looking forward to the game. I missed the chance to play them last time because I was away, so I-m looking forward to playing them, and hopefully we can continue the good form from last week.

"I think it will give me a lot of confidence to see the season out with the Mariners. We-re doing pretty well so hopefully that can continue.

"I-m looking to win the League and the Grand Final with the Mariners. I-ll be trying to put the World Cup to the back of my mind for now and focus on the League, but it-s going to be hard!" exclaimed McGlinchey.

As for preferred opponents in South Africa, there-s one obvious choice for the boy born in New Zealand, but raised in Scotland.

"I-d like to get England. All my football heroes, like the (Steven) Gerrard-s of this world play for them, so I-d like to get them," McGlinchey said.

The Mariners- next home match of the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season will be against Perth Glory on Friday, 27 November. Kick-off is at 8:00pm. Tickets are available online here or by phoning 132 849.

Mariners Memberships for the Hyundai A-League 2009/10 season are now on sale by clicking here