Fraser: 'Stop Bouza's Greek Tragedy'
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EXCLUSIVE: Doyen of Australian goalkeeping Jim Fraser says if the Socceroos lost out on Liverpool's highly rated Sydney-born keeper Dean Bouzanis it would be in his words a "tragedy" for Aussie football.
Bouzanis is still available for the Socceroos despite accepting another Greek youth call-up to, in the words of the player's agent, "continue to gain valuable international experience in the Euro finals," said Terry Palapanis recently.
Under FIFA rules, Bouzanis can still play for the Socceroos if he has represented another nation at youth level. He is set to play for Greece in the Czech Republic at this month's Euro U/19 tournament where England, Italy, Spain and Germany have also qualified.
Former Socceroo Fraser told au.fourfourtwo.com today that the 17-year-old wunderkind, who is set train with Liverpool's first team next season, is potentially the Socceroos' best ever keeper and we should be doing all we can to tie him to the green and gold.
"I had him at Sydney FC before he went to Liverpool last year and he was like a sponge. I'd stand behind the goal and give him instructions but after a month that wasn't needed.
"He had some rough edges and I think he was shocked at how fast the game was when he got to the club, but he has that X-factor as a keeper. He totally believes in himself.
"I believe the kid will be our best ever keeper in years to come. He is outstanding."
Considering the quality of the Australian ranks over the years, this is a big statement made by one who knows Aussie goalkeepers better than most.
Capped 10 times by the Socceroos in the 1970s, Fraser runs his own goalkeeping academy in Sydney's west and is goalkeeper coach for Sydney FC. He is generally regarded as one of Australia's most astute judges.
However, Fraser accepts it's tricky for keepers to get regular game time and can see the reasoning behind Bouzanis wanting to get match practice in a top quality international arena.
"For keepers, there are limited opportunities so it's difficult. Perhaps he's pushing the favour a bit by playing for Greece but he hasn't had a lot of chances to play regularly.
"And there could be things going on behind the scenes that we don't about."
The Bouzanis scenario has a scary parallel with another Aussie keeper who was allowed to leave the country.
"I worked with Joey Didulica before he went and played for Croatia," said Fraser. :He slipped through the net. We should've signed him up.
"And that's the same with Dean. We cannot let that happen again. We should have tied him up already."
Bouzanis was called into Graham Arnold's Olympic squad for May's international tournament in Malaysia but was not called up for recent training camps in either Central Coast last week or Darwin.
"Dean's obviously disappointed with missing out on an Olyroo place," added Palapanis at the time.
"It seems odd that someone who's considered good enough to now be training with Rafa Benitez's first team at Liverpool wasn't considered good enough for an Olyroo camp in Gosford and Darwin.
"The Greek FA are desperate to get Dean on board."