Zeljko Kalac says he does not understand why Australian players have to find clubs in lesser leagues in order to play regular football.
The former AC Milan and Socceroos goalkeeper is worried that senior national team players get too concerned when they don't get regular game time at bigger European clubs, prompting them to step down to leagues such as the UAE Arabian Gulf League and the Qatari Stars League.
"I cannot understand why players who are on the books of big clubs but do not play regularly are seen as not good enough," Kalac told SBS in relation to Socceroos veterans such as Mark Bresciano, Brett Holman, Sasa Ognenovski and Alex Brosque.
"I don't get it, they're kidding with this obsession.
"This is the biggest problem we've got and we have had it for some time. It's hurting us.
"Whoever said you've got to play regular football to be in the Socceroos squad is probably causing this problem and I cannot imagine (Socceroos coach) Holger Osieck being behind this because he knows how tough it is just to be in some of Europe's squads.
"Some people in Australia have no idea how much you learn by just training with quality players day in day out.
"I mean, some of these players who prefer to play in the Gulf and in parts of Asia are better off staying in the A-League."
Kalac added: "Players going to the Middle East are definitely making the wrong decisions.
"I can understand some of the established players seeking a last hefty pay-cheque and a slower pace in the game.
"But some of the younger ones should play at a level where they are going to be under the most intense pressure.
"If you are at the top level at a club in Spain, Italy, England and Germany and you're on the bench it's as good a level as playing in the second division anywhere."
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