Bbelieve it or not, Andrew Redmayne is more than happy to blend into a crowd. Ideally, a crowd that doesn’t recognize him as the dancing goalkeeper, or the gray Wiggle, or the guy who denied Peru a place in the World Cup.
“I took a picture last night in a suit,” he says at the Australian camp in Doha. “A suit and a picture are my two worst enemies.”
This is the same man who, back in June, produced a frenzy of a penalty shootout and engaged in the kind of top-shelf shithouse that would certainly get him recognized in quite a few places. Doha, fortunately, is not one of them.
Australia have been effectively incognito since arriving in the country a week ago, training and living at the Aspire Academy and barely setting foot outside the perimeters. When they do, no covert planning operation is required.
“We would be one of the few nations that could actually walk through a mall on the eve of a World Cup and kind of just slip into the background,” he says.
Redmayne may not relish the limelight, but the past six months have been a lesson in adaptation. The 33-year-old’s tactical switch at the end of extra time not only secured Australia’s famous play-off qualifying win but also made him an instant breakfast TV star.
It made international headlines as well. Media in Qatar seem to know only one tidbit of information about the Socceroos – that their bearded goalkeeper threw the shot slips at his Peru counterpart and went on to seal a place in a fifth consecutive World Cup.
Half a year later, he returns to the role of back-up for first choice Mat Ryan, who retains his place in the national team despite untimely setbacks at his Danish club, FC Copenhagen.
Maty has been phenomenal, says Redmayne. “He is a consummate professional. He’s kind of gone through periods of not a lot of playing time, but he’s always performed for Australia.”
“Mat is the captain of the national team, he’s a consummate professional and anything I can do to help him perform and prepare for games, I’m more than happy to do,” said Redmayne.
He will not need to help him prepare for Karim Benzema, who was ruled out at the weekend in news that has been felt among the team as a mixture of disappointment, sympathy and relief.
“I think you always want to test yourself against the best, and at the moment he’s the best thing in the world, so it’s sad to see him miss out,” says Redmayne. – Also from a World Cup point of view, you will see the best players on the pitch. But whoever puts on a blue shirt is going to be a world-class player.
France, on the other hand, know very little about the first opponents of their title defence, a factor which Redmayne does not consider a positive or a negative.
“It all comes down to executing our game plan and being strong and resolute on our own physical, technical and tactical side,” he says. “Whoever goes on the field for France is going to be a world-class player and we have to take the game to them, be physical and really execute that game.
“The intensity [in training] really came up a notch for the UAE and Peru and I think we’ve even added to that in this camp.”