Fran Karacic SocceroosGetty

How Fran Karacic ended up playing for the Socceroos

He's never stepped foot in Australia and represented Croatia at youth level as recently as March, but Fran Karacic is now set for a Socceroos debut after a particularly complicated route to the national arena.

Born and raised in Croatia, the 22-year-old defender currently plays club football for NK Lokomotiva and has been named in Bert van Marwijk's preliminary 26-man Socceroos World Cup squad.

Only eligible for Australia because his father and grandfather both have citizenship Down Under, Karacic has seemingly come out of nowhere for the green and gold but has actually been on the Socceroos radar for a long time. 

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"The whole story with the Australians started almost two years ago, then I got the invitation of Ante Čačić in the Croatian A team for the American tour and the match with Mexico," Karacic told Goal in April

"Then I got hurt, so I did not make any other decision, and then a few months later a call from the Croatian U-21 team, and Australia has now made it to the World Cup in Russia."

With eight appearances for Croatia's U-21 side to his name with his last coming in March when he scored against Moldova, Karacic was undecided for a long time over which country to represent but had his mind made up when Australia beat Croatia to the punch by offering him a shot at World Cup selection.

Fran Karacic AustraliaSocial

Though he could still be cut from the Socceroos final World Cup squad, the right back has been in the green and gold's sights for a very long time and could get to show exactly why when Australia play Czech Republic on June 1 in a friendly.

"It all started two years ago when the Australian coach was Ange Postecoglou," he said.

"During his mandate we were in regular contact. Lokomotiva is a good club, full of young and prospective players, so the Australians have probably noticed it. After all, they wanted me to join Australia for last year's Confederations Cup, but then I was injured. 

"The Australians have been with me for a long time, knowing practically everything about me, and most often I contact with the assistant coach of Ante Milicic.

"I have never talked to Bert van Marwijk, but through WhatsApp I am in contact with other coaches and psychologists from the Australian team."

Karacic began his club career in the Croatian second division with Lucko in the 2014/15 season before being picked up by Lokomotiva.

The 22-year-old defender made 25 appearances for the club in their most recent campaign as the side finished fifth in the HNL.