“When I did damage to the meniscus, it’s not been stable enough for my ACL to hold and that’s kind of why I had that surgery.”
The Socceroos replaced Boyle in the squad with Melbourne City’s Marco Tilio, but decided to keep him on in Qatar anyway, appointed by Arnold as chief vibes officer.
After their victory over Tunisia, Arnold drew the limping Boyle into the circle of players on the pitch, pleasing everyone except Boyle’s surgeon.
“It’s a bit of a down moment for me,” Boyle said, “but as long as I can keep smiles on their face, then that’s all I’m worried about. I think something about me is that I always put people before myself.”
Much as he is tasked to keep teammates relaxed and in good humour, they are keeping his spirits up.
“I room with [Matt] Leckie. When I wake up, he’s got a coffee there, he turns the light on, he wakes me up, pushes me around in a wheelchair,” Boyle said.
“He helps me in the shower – obviously PG – but he’s definitely helped a lot.”
Boyle said they were all on his case. “Even Cammy Devlin: he’s a rival back home and he’s convinced me not to post anything in case the Hearts fans bite his head off,” he said. “But they’ve all been brilliant.”
As for who is his toughest case in his new role, Boyle did not hesitate. “Arnie,” he said. “He needs it.”
When the World Cup magic carpet ride is done, Boyle knows he has a lonely road ahead. “It’s happened, I can’t really get down and dread it,” he said. “Of course, it’s a long recovery process. It’s not all smiles. There’s going to be times where I am going to be down and sad.
“It’s not ideal for my club situation. We were also in a bad run, coming into this, and ideally, I want to get back there and help as much as I can. Hopefully, they can kick on when the season starts again and hopefully I can play a big part of next season.”
Boyle said he was proud rather than jealous of his Socceroos teammates on the pitch, proud also of the role he played in the long and gruelling qualifying series to get them there.
He will be 30 when he plays again, his motivation will be greater than ever and he has the Asian Cup in his sights.
“I don’t want my journey to end here and on such a low,” he said.
“I’ve got the hunger and desire to get back and I want to be in that squad and help achieve another trophy for the Socceroos like they did many years ago.”
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