Jason Cummings has dedicated his first Socceroos goal – one that might take him to the World Cup in Qatar – to his dog, Carlos.
The cult hero sealed Australia’s 2-0 win over New Zealand, winning and scoring a penalty at Eden Park on his first outing in a Socceroos shirt.
The win has the 27-year-old dreaming of playing for Australia at the World Cup, a campaign which begins against world champions France in less than two months time.
But as he prepared to take the spot kick, he wasn’t thinking of Qatar.
He was thinking of his bulldog Carlos.
“I’ve got him tattooed on my calf. He’s in Scotland, so I’m missing him,” Cummings told AAP in Auckland.
“I touch the dog on my calf, I rub his chest like I used to rub his chest back home and it brings me luck.
“Carlos, if you’re listening to this interview, if you’re reading this, I love you so much,” he says, breaking into laughter.
Cummings, a former Scotland international, switched allegiances to Australia and moved his club career Down Under to chase caps with the Socceroos.
After failing to catch national team bosses’ eyes while playing in Scotland, he moved to Central Coast at the start of the year and hasn’t looked back.
“A year ago I was struggling on the bench for Dundee. I couldn’t get a game for them. Now I’m playing for the Socceroos,” he said.
“That is the reason why I started playing football as a young kid, for days like this.
“To score on my international debut for the Socceroos is unbelievable.”
Cummings was one of six debutants against the All Whites, along with Harrison Delbridge, Ryan Strain, Cameron Devlin, Keanu Baccus, and his 18-year-old Mariners teammate Garang Kuol.
It was Kuol – the youngest Socceroos debutant since Harry Kewell won his first cap aged 17 in 1996 – who started the move for Cummings’s goal, winning a loose ball in his own half and roaring forward on a break.
Kuol squared for Riley McGree whose shot was saved, before Cummings’ effort was denied by Liberato Cacace’s handball – leading to the penalty.
“I thought ‘I’ve got to step up and take this and finish off my dinner’,” Cummings told Network 10 in another memorable interview that’s endeared him to fans.
Coach Graham Arnold has his own thoughts about what Cummings – aka the “Cumdog”, and more recently, the “Cumdingo” – brings to the Socceroos side.
“Laughter,” he says, “He’s mental!
“He caused a bit of a ruckus out there for the opposition. He’s a great kid … and he deserved to score a goal.”
Arnold, who told AAP he had already selected around 15 or 16 in his squad, said it was up to Cummings whether he made the final squad.
“All the boys have to go back to their clubs, they got seven weeks. They’ve got to play and they’ve got to be fit … I will pick players on form, not on reputation.”
Cummings is happy to do his bit.
“I’ve done my best. It was a pleasure to be here in the first place,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed the week. Embraced it. So now I go back to my club, enjoy my football, work hard and score goals and you know you never know.”