BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
MARTIN BOYLE had never seen his dad Graeme lost for words.
However, the Hibs star has revealed that his exploits for Australia left his old man speechless.
Graeme Boyle, who now lives in Aberdeen but hails from Sydney, was welling up earlier this month as Martin travelled Down Under to make his first competitive outings for the Socceroos in friendlies against South Korea and Lebanon.
Watching television in the early hours of the morning, he was beaming with pride as the 25-year-old climbed from the bench to notch an assist in the 1-1 draw against the Asian nation, before scoring a brace in the 3-0 defeat of Lebanon.
The golden jersey that Boyle sported in the latter – his maiden start for his adopted country – will soon have pride of place in Graeme’s home, and Martin admits the experience has been an emotional roller-coaster.
“When I left for the matches in Australia, my dad almost shed a tear,” Boyle smiled. “He was staying up all night to watch the games.
“When I phoned him after the games, it was a new experience – I’ve never heard him speechless before in his life!
“He’s damn proud. When I came home last week, he came down to visit and I gave him the shirt. He’s going to get it framed. I got a few shirts to take home so they’ll all be up on the wall.
“I was very nervous going into the week. It felt surreal. It was just about making that first impression. I was being talked about a lot and, the closer the game came, it was being built up.
“You just think to yourself ‘don’t have a nuke!’”
Boyle needn’t have worried. His all-action displays have seen him hailed by the media and fans in Australia as a viable attacking option in Graham Arnold’s new-look, vibrant side.
He has also been welcomed with open arms by his Socceroo teammates, with Boyle still visibly stunned as he recalls being ‘welcomed to the family’ by Aussie sporting icon Tim Cahill, who won his 108th and final cap against Lebanon.
Cahill paid tribute to Boyle as part of an emotive speech the night prior that fixture, before presenting him with a commemorative jersey signed by the entire squad.
“Tim [Cahill] was there for the last few days of the camp but it was amazing to be around him,” Boyle said.
“So for him to present me with that shirt in front of the squad was an unbelievable feeling. It was a signed shirt from all the boys with the emblem of the [South Korea] game and the date on it. I’ll get that framed as well.
“I didn’t know what to do with myself! I thought he was just giving a speech talking about himself and his career, then he turned to me and told me I was part of the family and the boys would look after me.
“He told me it would be the best days of my life and I wouldn’t regret it. I remember trying to let it sink it, that someone like Tim Cahill was saying those kind things about me.”
Boyle could not help but see slight similarities in his own journey to Cahill’s; a young man born abroad before choosing to represent the Aussies in his mid-20s.
If he scores even a fraction of the 50 goals the former Everton man did for his country then he will be revered.
He will, however, be steering clear of the famed No.4 shirt.
“There were things he [Cahill] mentioned in his speech that even I didn’t know about him,” continued Boyle. “I didn’t realise he was Samoan and only made his Australia debut at 25. There are a couple of similarities there.
“Graham Arnold actually asked me if I wanted his number four jersey after I scored the double. I said ‘no, you’re alright’. Now that’s pressure.”
Boyle’s sensational showings for Australia have given him a wonderful chance of being named in the squad for the upcoming Asian Cup, which runs from January 5 to February and could see him miss three games for the Hibees.
Prior to that prospect, he is determined to bounce back from a five-game winless run and embark on a successful December.
“It’s very important to get back on track on Saturday against Kilmarnock,” said Boyle. “I wouldn’t say it’s a major crisis but our downfall has been that we haven’t been clinical enough. I’m sure everything will start to click in the next few weeks.
“It’s been stop-start, stop-start so far, but now we’ve got a run of games and this is the time to knuckle down.
“It doesn’t come much harder but this is why we’re in the top division. If we want to be challenging, we need to be competing in these games.”
Martin Boyle was speaking at Hibernian’s annual Golf Day at Archerfield Links