What if? Harry Kewell looks back on injury-hit career

The retiring great of Australian football believes he could perhaps have achieved so much more if his body had held up better to the rigours of professional sport
Harry Kewell has admitted he questions whether or not he fulfilled his true potential after calling time on a career blighted by injury.

Kewell, 35, confirmed his impending retirement in front of a packed press conference at AAMI Park on Wednesday, with Melbourne Heart's home match against Western Sydney Wanderers on April 12 set to be the last of his 18-year professional career.

The forward burst onto the scene as a flying winger at Leeds United in the late 1990s, and looked set to become one of the best left-sided attacking players in the world.

When he left Leeds in 2003, Kewell was subject of interest from Manchester United and reportedly a clutch of other European heavyweights, before he joined Liverpool in something of a surprise move.

While he continued to impress intermittently for the Socceroos and his star remained relatively undimmed in Australia, the sense of Kewell in Britain and elsewhere remains that of a great talent sadly unfulfilled.

And the man himself did not dispute that assertion when it was put to him.

"I do sit there with my wife and my close friends and wonder, what if? Yes, I feel like I can play the game, I understand the game," he said.

"And I wonder if I didn't have those injuries, what could have been? But I believe the path was set out for me and I think it's made me a better person.

"I've been at the highest level in football but I've also been at lowest level. I understand where the good and the bad does come from. And I think it's made me a better person all round."

Initially reluctant to single out the favourite strike of his career, Kewell nominated his goal against Croatia in 2006, one that sent Australia through to the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup, as a clear highlight.  

"You get that asked a lot as a footballer," he said.

"People go, 'what's the moment, what's the greatest goal that you've scored?'"

"You know what? Every goal is. It doesn't matter whether it's one that puts your country through or one that saves you from relegation or one that wins you the title. Every goal you score is special.

"But, in saying that, the one against Croatia was special. To be able to score a goal in a World Cup in the biggest level in football was fantastic."

With any outside chance of a ticket to the World Cup in Brazil now well and truly over, Kewell claimed a return to national team duty hadn't been the biggest motivating factor behind his decision to return to the A-League with Heart this season.

"No," he said when asked if a Socceroos recall had been spurring him on in recent years.

"I always said it's a pride, a privilege, an honour to play for your country and I think you've got to be playing at the highest level to being do that.

"I had a year out, I came back. Yes I played well for Heart in the games that I've played. I've had some injuries this year. I think it is time to pass on and let these youngsters step up and be counted for."