Sportsmart talks to Socceroos and Middlesbrough football (soccer) star Scott McDonald

First club: Doveton soccer club
First coach: My father John – I was 6 years old when I started
First boots: I believe I had Mitre boots, which were quite good at the time
First pro club: V.I.S and Gippsland Falcons when I was 15
Current club: Middlesbrough
Current manager: Gordon Strachan
Current boots: Nike CTR360 Maestri Elite

Q. What do you like most about playing the world game?
(question from Tom C via Sportsmart’s Facebook page)

I like the way it has such a passionate effect on people in a lot of countries – it becomes almost like a religion. I like how it can unite people who don’t know each other or perhaps don’t have a lot in common, but for that 90 minutes in a game you all feel a part of something special, whether you’re playing or spectating.

Q. How have you found life in England playing for Middlesbrough?
(question from Vishnu C via Sportsmart’s Facebook page)

I have found going back to life in England enjoyable for the most part. It was very difficult to leave Celtic, but I felt it was time for a new type of challenge under a manager who has nurtured me in my career and has a lot of belief in me and in Middlesbrough. We have a fantastic set up, from the stadium to the training facilities. It is very much premiership standards, so obviously our goal for the coming season is to get back to the prem and, under Gordon Strachan’s guidance, I believe we can achieve this in the coming season.

Q. What do you think of the standard of the championship compared to the SPL?
(question from Vishnu C via Sportsmart’s Facebook page)

The standard in the championship is very strong – there are quite a lot of top quality internationals playing in it. There are no easy games, that’s for sure, and I believe it is in the top 5 highest paid leagues in the the world. So I guess that is why it is also of a top standard. As for the SPL, I don’t think it gets enough credit. The days of Scottish football being route 1 is long gone – all the teams try to play a passing game and, in recent years, the old firm have been buying a lot of quality young Scottish players from other SPL teams.

Q. When did you make your debut for the Socceroos?

In February 2006 against Bahrain.

Q. What is your favourite moment while playing for the Socceroos?

My favourite moment in a Socceroos jersey would have to be qualifying for the World Cup. It was a very proud moment.

Q. How do you rate Australia’s chances in the 2010 World Cup?

Well, we have a very tough group but we have a great team with a lot of quality and belief. I think the first game against Germany is a massive one. They’re known as relatively slow starters so hopefully that can be the case when we match up in our first game. If you can get points on the board in the first game, especially 3, then you are well on your way to the next round. We know it will be tough, but our goal is to get past the group stage. I think it would be silly for us to look beyond that at this time.

Q. How much were you looking forward to the Socceroos farewell match at the MCG?

I was very excited about that match. Playing in my home town at the MCG is always a great night and the crowd are always fantastic.

Q. What advice would you give to aspiring football players?

Enjoy your football work to your maximum every time you train or play, listen to your coaches, and don’t be afraid to express yourself in your play.

Q. How do you get to the next level – local football to professional?

With a lot of hard work and dedication, and always give your all as you just never know who is watching – from state coaches to a league or even overseas clubs.

Q. What is the hardest thing about being a professional footballer?

The hardest thing is always remaining disciplined, even when on holidays – always having to watch what I’m eating and drinking and also watching my social life. That was hard when I was young especially. But if you want to be successful these are some of the sacrifices you have to make. I would never complain because I love what I do and I know what a fortunate position I am in to be playing football for a living.

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