Holland earning high praise in Austria

James Holland is beginning to deliver upon his undoubted potential and the Qantas Socceroos will be among those to benefit.

James Holland is beginning to deliver upon his undoubted potential and the Qantas Socceroos will be among those to benefit.

The 23-year-old faded from Qantas Socceroo calculations towards the end of his three-year stint with Dutch club AZ Alkmaar, only to revive his fledgling career at top Austrian outfit Austria Vienna.

Not only has Holland revived his career; he is enjoying perhaps the watershed period of his football life.

“This season has been fantastic,” Holland said.

“Initially the first six months were a little bit of a rollercoaster ride, I was just adjusting and the team wasn-t really performing that well.

“We-ve had a change of coach and since the summer everything-s been falling into place nicely for us.

“I-m really enjoying my football here and obviously so far the season has been amazing and hopefully we can continue.”

At Austria Vienna, Holland has been instrumental in assisting his club through its record-breaking season to date - where the Violet-s are on track to collect both the domestic league and cup titles.

Austria Vienna-s 4-0 thrashing of Wacker Innsbruck at the weekend marked their fifteenth consecutive Bundesliga match without defeat, a run that has the club fifteen points clear at the summit and seven wins shy of 81 competition points - the all-time Austrian record.

Holland has started all but two of Austria Vienna-s matches, and his contribution has been immense according to local observers.

“I think he has brought stability to (Austria Vienna-s) defensive midfield and I think that-s a very important factor,” said Sportwoche journalist Markus Geisler, whose magazine voted Holland the best defensive midfielder in Austria in January.

“He always wants the ball, he often gets the ball and when he has the ball, he knows what to do with it, this is very important for the game of Austria Vienna.

“(The Sportwoche recognition) was a sign of how very much his performance is seen in Austria.”

The Sportwoche article also included a testimonial from 37-time capped Austrian international and former defensive midfielder Thomas Flögel.

“Now I have the feeling that he is getting better with every game,” Flögel said.

“That Austria Vienna has conceded so few goals, is not the sole merit of central defence and goalkeeper, but also of Holland's superior style.

“No risk passes, he always keeps his position, if he contributed more goals and assists, he would be perfect.”

Sportwoche-s recognition placed Holland ahead of Bundesliga counterparts Valon Berisha and Christoph Leitgeb, current Norwegian and Austrian internationals respectively.

Furthermore, previous winners of Holland-s award include Julian Baumgartlinger, a former Austria Vienna midfielder that is now excelling at German Bundesliga club Mainz, and 61-time capped Finnish international Markus Heikkinen.

Holland-s coach, former Austrian international Peter Stöger, is another convinced of the quality of his "no.6".

“After the first training sessions and the first contact to him, I realised that he is the one on the ‘number six- position for me,” said.

“He has incredible ambitions, he is always wanting to get the best from himself, he is a team player and a positive character.

“I appreciate such players in my team and I want such players in the centre of my team, I am very glad to get to work with him.”

Of the current generation of Qantas Socceroos, only Robbie Kruse, Matthew Spiranovic and Dario Vidosic had made more senior international appearances by Holland-s age.

Midfield contemporaries Mile Jedinak and Carl Valeri debuted for the Qantas Socceroos at ages 23 and 22 respectively, an indication of the exciting future that Holland represents.

“My role is to give the coach a bit of a headache,” Holland said.

“There-s boys there that have been there for a long time and they-re fantastic players and, me being a young boy, it-s my job to push them and to show the coach that he can take a risk with me and he can give me the opportunity.

“I-m just trying to work hard to prove to Holger that I-m worthy of a starting spot and hopefully he sees that in me and gives me the opportunity against Oman.”

The Qantas Socceroos face Oman in a FIFA World Cup qualifier Sydney on 26 March. Click here to buy your tickets.