Josh Kennedy the World Cup saviour

June 19, 2013
By Angela Habashy

He's the man nicknamed Jesus, now Josh Kennedy's miracle goal against Iraq has him labelled the saviour.

Locked at 0-0 and with just 13 minutes left on the clock, Kennedy, who had not made a Socceroos appearance for 19 months, was called on to replace none other than Tim Cahill at the point of attack.

What appeared to be a moment of madness from coach Holger Osieck turned out to be no less than devine intervention as the 194cm striker climbed to the heavens to head home the decisive 83rd minute goal, securing Australia a ticket to next year's World Cup.

Just as big of a miracle however, was his comeback to form after a long battle with injury.

Kennedy hasn't played for the national team since the 1-0 win in Thailand back in November 2011, the first phase of this qualifying campaign.

At the time Kennedy was in blistering form for his J-League club Nagoya Grampus.

He went on to become the league's top scorer and was a regular inclusion in the Socceroo line-up.

But a back injury kept him on the bench almost half of last season.

After months of intense gym and physio work the 30-year-old made his playing comeback late last month for Nagoya and has since gone from strength to strength, already netting three goals in eight games.

He said scoring the winner in front of over 80,000 delirious fans at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday made the hard work worthwhile.

"Moments like these you never forget it," he said on Wednesday.

"It's been a real long hard road to come back so this is definitely the icing on the cake."

Kennedy said the magnitude of what he'd done had yet to register but he felt it was fate for him to come on and get a goal.

"The game's still playing through my head," he said.

"I think once I get a bit of peace and quiet it might sink in.

"Everything went at 100 miles an hour to be honest.

"As soon as I headed it, before I knew it I was at the corner flag, everybody was jumping on top of me and then I was telling everyone to get off because I couldn't breath.

"It was an amazing feeling and I sort of felt like I was meant to be coming off the bench and getting a chance."

Within minutes of Kennedy's 83rd minute goal social media was abuzz with pictures of Kennedy's face superimposed on the famous Rio statue of Christ the Redeemer.

"Of course I've seen it. I've had mates send me photos." Kennedy said.

"It would have probably been funnier if I still had my long hair.

"But it's all good. The Jesus nickname has been stuck forever so there's no problems with that."