Lucas Neill is one of Australia's most high-profile football exports, starring in the Premier League for several years now as well as excelling in the national side. Neill is also the face of Konami's upcoming Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 in Australia. GameSpot AU spoke to Neill recently to ask about Pro Evo and all things soccer.
GameSpot AU: John Aloisi was last year's PES cover star down under. How do you feel about taking over and being the new face of football in Australia and New Zealand?
Lucas Neill: I am very honoured to have been chosen as the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 2008 and am excited to be promoting a game of this calibre. John did an excellent job promoting PES last year and I hope that I can do the same.
GS AU: Are you a gamer yourself? What's your gaming background, and what have you been playing lately?
LN: If I'm not on the road with the Socceroos, my training schedule for West Ham is quite demanding and I don't get as much time as I would like to play many videogames. I have been playing PES a lot as I often play with the Socceroos while on the road, but unfortunately I don't have much of a gaming background!
GS AU: What do you think of the job games like PES have done in recreating the game you play week in, week out? How close is it to the real thing?
LN: Videogames have come a long way in development and PES comes very close to re-creating the real thing. The graphics and game play do well to bring the game to your living room, and the implementation of the IK System allows players to have more control on player movements than ever before.
GS AU: Have you seen yourself in the game yet? Are you happy with your likeness?
LN: Yeah I have seen myself in the game and I have no complaints about the physical attributes my virtual self has been given.
GS AU: How about the rating and skills of the virtual Neill in PES 2008? Do you agree with the skill levels the developers have given you?
LN: The developers wanted to make sure I was happy with the stats and skill levels given to me and I tried to make sure they are as accurate as possible.
GS AU: As the face of PES 2008, will we see you down under to help promote the game?
LN: I hope so... that is part of my commitment as the face of PES in Australia and New Zealand, and I hope to help promote the game and I speak to the media during the promotional period.
GS AU: With the World Cup only around every four years, and with the Socceroos playing only every few months, how important are games like PES in keeping the resurgence of football in Australia going strong?
LN: Games like PES certainly help to keep the momentum of football growing in Australia, as we saw during the World Cup the amount of interest for the game in general and the Socceroos has increased immensely. This is one of the reasons I was more than happy to be given the opportunity to have a greater role in influencing the resurgence of football in Australia.
GS AU: We obviously have to ask you a football question: what are your goals for West Ham this year?
LN: I just want to concentrate on having a very good season with West Ham, and being able to play some entertaining football. I made the move to West Ham to further my career and hopefully help the club make it to the finals.
GS AU: Will we ever see you play in the A-League?
LN: I think the A-League is exactly what Australia needed and I would love to come back home and play football here some day.
GS AU: And one final question: when you finally get the full version of PES 2008, what will be the first match you play? Will it be Australia vs Italy, perhaps?
LN: Yeah I've already thought about that and it would certainly be interesting to see a re-match! (laughs)