Doncaster Rovers: Lucas Neill aims to do things the ‘proper’ way

Lucas Neill. Picture: Steve Uttley
Lucas Neill. Picture: Steve Uttley

Lucas Neill has been there and got several t-shirts.

But the World Cup and Premier League veteran, at 36 years young, is still driven by the desire to prove himself.

Lucas Neill tussles with Craig Bellamy while on duty for Australia.

Lucas Neill tussles with Craig Bellamy while on duty for Australia.

Yesterday at Cantley Park, Neill was as eager to make a good impression on his new Doncaster teammates as he was almost two decades ago as a teenager with a foot in the door at Millwall.

More than 200 Premier League appearances and two World Cups later, the Sydney-born defender still had those first day nerves as he linked up again with friend and former teammate Paul Dickov, eager to make a good impression, eager to ‘earn the right’ to make his mark on Rovers’ relegation run-in.

Niggling away at the back of Neill’s mind is the doubt surrounding his international swan song in Brazil this summer.

The former Socceroos skipper’s hopes of appearing at a third World Cup appear to have been dented by a 12-month build-up that has seen him play a handful of games for clubs in Dubai, Australia and Japan, before landing at Watford just a month ago.

He was dropped by Australia earlier this month and has faced criticism at home for his nation’s leaky defence. Like so many of the club’s recent acquisitions, Neill arrives at Doncaster with a point to prove.

His move up north unquestionably provides him with a potential passport to the biggest football show on the planet. But, as suggested by Dickov’s description of his new signing as a “proper man”, Neill is determined to go about his business in a very proper fashion too.

His first priority is to make a good impression, next to get Doncaster safe, then think about the World Cup.

“I was determined to make sure I played in England this year in the hope of getting picked for the World Cup,” admitted Neill.

“I’m here now and I’m really excited.

“I was a little bit frustrated at Watford sitting on the bench. It’s something I’m not used to.

“I’m looking forward to working hard, earning the respect of my new teammates, and hopefully getting a chance to be involved.

“It’s my intention to play, but I don’t expect to walk into the team.

“I have to earn the right to play. I need to get off to a good start in training and get to know the guys quickly.

“Because there’s only eight games left I have to quickly work them out, and vice versa.

“Hopefully I can be part of a successful end to the season with Doncaster.”

The opportunity to work with Dickov, a former teammate of his at Blackburn Rovers, made the move to Doncaster a no-brainer.

“Paul was a good friend of mine at Blackburn but he was also a good player,” said Neill on his new boss.

“We worked well together on the field and I think there was a mutual respect there.

“We both had a passion for the game, a lot of commitment and a desire to want to win.

“I haven’t lost that hunger, and by the way Paul Dickov is talking he hasn’t lost his either.”