Stefan Mauk has said his call-up into Ange Postecoglou’s 23-man Socceroos squad is something he’s aspired towards ever since he began playing football.
Having already experienced international football at U-23 level with Australia’s Olyroos, most recently at the AFC U-23 Championship in Doha, Qatar, Stefan Mauk will experience his first senior camp when the 20-year-old lands in Newcastle, England, later this month for the Socceroos’ clash with England’s national team on Friday, 27 May (local time).
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity for me,” Mauk said while enjoying a well-earned break from football. “I grew up as a kid who always wanted to represent my country and to have this opportunity, words can’t really describe what it means.
“I always had the belief that I was good enough to be an Australian national team footballer, but getting the call-up while I’m only 20 is an incredible feeling.
“Having the backing of the U-23s and knowing Ange (Postecoglou) was with us when we were in Qatar, he said he was going to be looking out for players for the first team, but I wasn’t expecting the call-up so soon.
“After just winning the Grand Final, I guess I’m still on cloud nine, and to then get the news about being wanted in the 23-man squad has made the end of this season just that much better.”
By the end of the 2015/16 season, Mauk had amassed seven goals and four assists, and was also nominated for NAB’s Young Footballer of the Year Award.
Evident through his efforts on the park, Mauk’s hard-working attitude and clear desire to improve have seemingly paved the way for the young South Australian, but the attacking midfielder is taking it all in his stride, eager to utilise the opportunity while he has it.
“I was a little shocked (when I found out about the call-up) at first, to be honest,” he admitted.
“Hearing it is one thing, but after you’ve had time to process it, it’s just pure excitement and I want to channel that.
“Coming off the back of the Grand Final win and having a good season, personally, that’s going to give me confidence going in, but I have to make sure I do all the right things.
“Going into the camp, I’ve got nothing to lose. I just need to go in and put my best foot forward, showing Ange what I can do.”
As somewhat a sign of his age, Mauk mentioned the surreality around potentially facing some of Europe’s strongest footballers, but noted certain Arsenal FC players as striking him the most.
Yet he’s still determined to make the most of his chance, not losing sight of its rarity.
“Growing up and supporting Arsenal in the English Premier League, to possibly have the chance to play against players like Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere would be unbelievable.
“Running out against them, I’ll probably feel like I’m watching them on TV like normal.
“It might be a little overwhelming initially, but I’ll be focused on doing my job for our team and playing in the Grand Final will hold me in good stead because of how it was such a high-pressure situation.
“Ange has given me this opportunity and he’s shown that he gives young players a chance, so it’s just up to me to go in there and take this opportunity.”