FIFA World Cup 2022: Bailey Wright’s worst fears realised after shattering text following win over Denmark, Socceroos rally around

The Socceroos have confirmed that Bailey Wright’s mother-in-law has passed away in a tragic postscript to their famous World Cup win over Denmark.

The Socceroos and Sunderland defender shocked teammates and reporters alike just minutes after Australia’s 1-0 victory on Thursday morning (AEDT) as he revealed he’d received a post-match text from his wife Alexandria informing him her mother was dying.

The 30-year-old had just come on as a late substitute against Denmark, holding Australia’s defence firm to see the Socceroos through to the Round of 16.

“I was kind of dedicating this to my wife and her mum,” Wright said as he choked back tears in the post-match press conference.

“I’m not … I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure she’s still with us.

His worst fears were confirmed just hours later, with Socceroos coach Graham Arnold saying the team would throw all their support behind him.

“He‘s devastated and as I just said to him, it’s crazy these things in life – something special happens and something gets taken away … but Bailey is OK,” Arnold said.

“The whole team and everyone is caring for his wife but Bailey is OK.”

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Teammate Milos Degenek said it was “not something you can wish upon anyone.

“He knows that we are his second family, we are going to be behind him.

“It is a lot more emotions (for him to deal with), (there are) a lot more things involved in football than just playing.”

Wright withdrew from a planned media conference on Friday morning (AEDT), however, following the win against Denmark, he did touch on the sacrifices the players were making to represent Australia at the World Cup.

“This is my second World Cup and to get on is special,” Wright said.

“A lot of that performance and the rewards you see now has been an effort over four years of not just people that are here, lads, staff, there’s a lot that have been on this journey.

“And I guess that’s really for everyone that’s made sacrifices throughout the four years and have made this possible, and making the nation back home pretty proud. I’m sure that they’ll be having a pretty good time back home.”

Meanwhile, Socceroos defender Milos Degenek has declared Australia will put their bodies on the line to stop Lionel Messi and spring a surprise against Argentina in their knockout stage encounter on Sunday morning (AEDT).

The defender, who made his World Cup debut in Australia’s 1-0 group win over Denmark on Wednesday, said Messi is his hero but all sentiments will be thrown aside when they meet on Saturday.

“You know I have always loved Messi, I think he is the greatest to have played the game,” said the 28-year-old.

But he added: “It’s not an honour to play against him because he is just a human, as we all are. It is an honour to be in the round of 16 of a World Cup. That is the honour in itself.”

Australian goalkeeper Mathew Ryan has kept two clean sheets in a row in successive 1-0 victories to take the Socceroos into the knockouts for only the second time in their history.

They will be heavy underdogs against Argentina, but Degenek said: “We have to believe and we have to be confident in our abilities to stop every attack.

“Whether that is going to be possible or not, I am not sure, but I know we are going to give 110 per cent to stop everything that goes towards Matty’s goal.” Degenek knows that Argentina, who bounced back from a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opener, will be desperate to give Messi a first World Cup title in what will surely be his last attempt.

“For us, it is to stop that. Unfortunately I am a big fan of his but I would love to win the World Cup more than for him to win the World Cup,” Degenek said.

– With AFP

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