PERTH Glory defender Michael Thwaite was just a week into a well-deserved holiday with his family in his home town of Cairns early this month when he was disrupted by a phone call.
Luckily he answered - the call was to invite him to a Socceroos training camp that led to him yesterday being named in the 26-man national squad to contest next month's three crucial World Cup qualifiers - games that will decide whether Australia will be a part of next year's World Cup in Brazil.
"I was up there with my wife and kids - my parents and my wife's parents still live up there," he said.
"At the Glory we trained right up until the end of April, so I only had a week off, but any chance you get to play or train in an Australian set-up, you take it."
That camp went from May 6-10, before he participated in more training in Sydney.
Thwaite, who has 11 Soccceroos caps to his credit, said the hard work would put him in good stead if he gets any game time against Japan in the first qualifier in Saitama on June 4.
Following that match, Holger Osieck's men will take on Jordan in Melbourne on June 11, and Iraq in Sydney on June 18.
The 30-year-old Thwaite said despite just 12 players being in camp, it was "very intense" with a number of games played against the Australian under-20 team which is preparing for the U20 World Cup in Turkey from June 21 to July 14.
While Osieck could not find a place for veteran Harry Kewell, Thwaite said the fact seven A-League players were picked in the 26-man Australian squad showed how far the competition had come.
"It shows we're at the same level as our overseas-based players," he said.
Thwaite said the Aussies relished games against Japan, the strong rivalry borne after the famous 3-1 victory at the 2006 World Cup.
"We'll take it to them with our renowned fighting spirit," he said.
"They probably only need a point to qualify, but we're desperate to take something from this game.
"Having to defend against (Manchester United superstar) Shinji Kagawa would be a dream come true."
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