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Ex-Blackburn, West Ham skipper Neill urges Australian youngsters to bypass Middle East

Australian national team captain Lucas Neill suggests that any young players eyeing off a career in Europe should not aspire to first play in the Middle East.

The 35-year old former Blackburn Rovers and West Ham United captain currently plays in the UAE with Al Wasl so is well-versed to know that those young Aussies who want to eventually play in the top leagues in Europe should avoid such competitions as the UAE Pro-League and Qatari Stars League.

"If you have ambitions to play in Europe, I think it is hard to go from Australia, as an example, to the Middle East and then to Europe because there is an opinion that clubs won't look this way for talent," Neill told Sport360°.

"People don't look here to try and find that pool of talent. And I really think any (young) footballer who has a dream should be trying to push himself to play in Europe."

And Neill went on to explain his reasons for heading to the Middle East following a successful career in England and Turkey.

"I am not getting any younger and I needed a league that is still challenging but maybe not as demanding," he added.

"When playing in Europe I was averaging 35-40 games a season and, with the internationals and the travel, it was just too much. It was too demanding to step up every week."

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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