Moore praises mate Muscat

The tributes have begun flowing for Kevin Muscat ahead of Friday night's testimonial match between Melbourne Victory and the Come Play XI at AAMI Park, with World Cup-bound Qantas Socceroo Craig Moore heaping praise on the Melbourne skipper.

The tributes have begun flowing for Kevin Muscat ahead of Friday night's testimonial match between Melbourne Victory and the Come Play XI at AAMI Park, with World Cup-bound Qantas Socceroo Craig Moore heaping praise on the Melbourne skipper.

Moore and Muscat have known each other since they were boys and as well as playing alongside each other for the national team from Under 20s right through to the Qantas Socceroos, they also spent two seasons together at Scottish giants Rangers.

Their on-field camaraderie has spilt into a strong friendship off the pitch and Moore didn't take a backward step when asked to speak on Muscat's influence on the game in Australia.

"I think what people see to this very day is his leadership qualities and the influence that he can have on a football field. I've seen that as a young kid, a 17-year-old when he was captain of the Young Socceroos. He was a player and a person that I've looked up to," Moore said.

"I've been very lucky that we've played together, we had a great run at Rangers, winning the treble as well, I think for people to come out and support what Kevin's done."

"He's had a fantastic career, he's been great for the Australian game and I think Melbourne Victory over the past four or five years have benefitted from his experience and they've been the benchmark for Australian clubs as well."

Moore said the two standout characteristics of Muscat are his consistency and his strength of character.

"For me there are no surprises with Kevin. He's a fantastic passer of the ball and always has been. He's a great footballer. Kevin is a winner. For me, if you can have 11 Kevin Muscats on the field then you'll have a winning team, it's a simple as that," he said.

Muscat's reputation as an enforcer followed him throughout his career in Scotland, England and Australia but Moore believes that belies the nature of the man off the field.

"A lot of people may have had run ins with him, but he's the first man to come to you after the game and offer you his hand. He's a completely different person off the field and I think that's why he's well-respected in the game. He's determined to get the right result and then after the game, it's forgotten about. What happens on the park stays on the park," he said.

Moore would love to play in Friday's match but with the World Cup just over three weeks away, he can't afford to risk picking up an injury in a testimonial match. But he will be one of a host of current and former Qantas Socceroos to be watching on, including Vince Grella, Mark Bresciano, Tony Popovic, Steve Corica, Stan Lazaridis and Zeljko Kalac.

"I would have loved to have played the game as would quite a few other boys," Moore said. "We can understand that leading into a World Cup, we've already had a few issues with injuries and if something was to be picked up in a game like that, then it's hard to justify. We will be all here to support Kevin on his night."

Meanwhile, Muscat said he feels genuinely humbled by the match and the sentiments of his closest footballing friends.

"It's pretty humbling, to be associated forever with being the first game here at AAMI Park. I'm looking forward to it. It's been a couple of weeks we've had to wait and sit back, but now that it's on our doorstep, I'm looking forward to it. It's exciting," he said.

"As a spectacle, I've got a lot of my friends coming down, ex-team-mates, Unfortunately, team-mates couldn't have been involved in the game that I would have liked, being involved in the national team. Understandably, they've got bigger fish to fry at the World Cup."

While Muscat is yet to decide if he will play on for another season, he gave a strong indication of his desire to continue by saying the motivation to compete is still very strong.

"Without a doubt, if that fire in your belly goes out, you have to give it away. I still feel that at the moment. At this point in time, I'm still as eager and hungry as ever to win," he said.