Dribble wizard Daniel Arzani is a unique talent who could be a game-changer for the Socceroos in Russia 2018, says former Roos legend Tony Vidmar.
Vidmar has worked with the teenage prodigy in his role as assistant coach at Melbourne City this season, and previously nurtured youth as head coach of the Australian Joeys.
He helped the Socceroos qualify for the 2006 World Cup, only to have his dream of playing in Germany ripped away from him when he was diagnosed with a potentially lethal heart condition on the eve of the tournament.
He had to withdraw from the Socceroos World Cup squad to undergo urgent surgery and retired from playing in green and gold a few months later.
But this year he will be playing a key role in the Optus World Cup coverage as part of their massive line-up of ex-Socceroos joining the telecoms giant as analysts for their online coverage.
Optus have added big names like Tony Popovic, Paul Okon, Shane Smeltz, Brett Emerton, Luke Wilkshire, Alex Wilkinson, Amy Harrison and Vidmar to their existing team of Richard Bayliss, Mel McLaughlin, Mark Schwarzer and Michael Bridges.
And Vidmar can't wait to see Arzani in action in Russia.
"We don't have anything like him as a player," Vidmar said at the Optus launch in Sydney last night.
"One stat he had this year was the amount of take-ons he had when he went past players was DOUBLE the next nearest player.
"He just has this belief and confidence that every time he gets the ball he can get past a player...and he's proved that he can do it."
Arzani has made it into the Socceroos squad for their pre-World Cup training camp in Turkey, and is a fans' choice to make it into the final 23 for Russia.
He missed out on the squad for new coach Bert van Marwijk's first two friendlies in March against Norway and Colombia but now looks set to seal his Socceroos place at last.
"These are the type of players you want to see firstly in your own competition in the A-League, but also in the national team because I just thrive watching him play," said Vidmar.
"You just sit back and enjoy what football is about – and he actually epitomises that."
Vidmar added: "I think he should go because he is probably now the next generation and can learn off Rogic and Mooy and Jedinak – and that's what you want.
"You want these younger players to learn off the best players we've got – and there's no better place to do that than at a World Cup."