Football pundits across Australia are in the throes of a debate on which homegrown talents should be picked as bolters for the 2018 Russia World Cup.

With that in mind The Football Sack dusted off the history books to reminisce on a number of iconic World Cup bolters from recent memory.

Just what exactly did they make of the opportunity?

Mark Milligan

The man so often used to justify the ‘bolter’ strategy, Milligan is all but certain to be one of two Socceroos to have featured in four World Cup squads come June. After impressing Guus Hiddink enough to earn his debut before the 2006 tournament, the 32-year-old has become a leader on the field for both club and country. Despite never breaking into a European side, the two-time A-League Championship winner was announced in three-straight PFA Team of the Seasons, earning him a spot on the pine alongside the like of Alessandro Del Piero and Steve Corica in the PFA 2005-2015 Team of the Decade. Now in the back end of his career, Milligan plies his trade for Al-Ahli in the Saudi Pro League.

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Josh Kennedy

Aussie Guus’ “secret weapon”, Jesus Kennedy was a shock inclusion ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where he played his professional football up to that point. Despite not having any substantial impact in ’06, Kennedy went on to score 17 goals in 36 matches for Australia, including the all-important header against Iraq in 2013 to seal Australia’s qualification for the 2014 World Cup. Now retired with kids to basketballer Jacinta Kennedy, the 35-year-old coaches and mentors youth teams near his home of Surrey Hills.

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Michael Beauchamp

Beauchamp was another bolter inaugurated by Hiddink in 2006. Despite not recording any minutes in Germany the central defender played 22 matches for his country, including a full 90 minutes in the 2-1 victory over Serbia in South Africa four years later. A long club career spanning three continents looks as if it will be book-ended by stints at the Marconi Stallions, after he returned to his hunting ground of the early 2000s last year.

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Nikita Rukavytsya

Pim Verbeek was a man reluctant to change, so when Nikita Rukavytsya was selected for the Socceroos in 2010 it surprised most. The pacey attacker was not seen in a Australian National Team for some four years after a lack of game time crippled him in Europe. However a return to the A-League put the 30-year-old back on the radar, before success in Israel cemented a call-up by Ange Postecoglou late in World Cup qualifiers. Expect to see the Maccabi Haifa product selected for our journey to Russia.

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Ben Halloran

The Cairns product was called up in Brazil 2014 by Ange thanks to a initially successful venture to Europe from the A-League. The pace merchant came off of the bench in every group stage match, but has failed to get any serious look in by both Postecoglou and van Marwijk since. Like another bolter who came before, the 25-year-old swapped Germany for Japan in January, perhaps to try and make himself relevant again with the upcoming World Cup in mind. Unfortunately, limited game time and a lack of goals will probably see Aussie Bert take his pen and pad elsewhere.

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Bailey Wright

The feel good story of the lot. Bailey Wright was a close to a nobody as it gets when he scored a chance trial with Preston North End following his cold open email to them. Fast-forward five years and Wright had secured a 2014 World Cup spot with no international appearances under his belt. While he failed to feature in Brazil, Wright has become a regular partnering Trent Sainsbury as a centre-back. A shoe-in for Russia, the 25-year-old is now captaining Championship side Bristol City in their unlikely push for promotion to the Premier League.

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Adelaide-based writer, content creator and story-teller. Like one of those determined ants that require a second flick.