Maurice Revello Tournament can be a stepping stone for future Socceroos

Tony Vidmar is acutely aware of the benefits that can come from playing in an Olympic Games. Over three decades ago, at the start of what would become a legendary international career in green and gold, the defender was part of the famous Olyroos side that reached the bronze medal match of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, the country's equal best-ever result at an Olympic Games, and the only time its men have reached that point.

Alongside Vidmar, who played an integral role in ending the Socceroos' 32-year absence from the World Cup before heartbreakingly missing out on Germany 2006 due to an irregular heart rhythm, was part of a side that would become the bedrock of Australia's "Golden Generation" -- the likes of Ned Zelic, Paul Okon and Mark Bosnich all part of the side that descended upon Barcelona for the Games of the XXV Olympiad.

"It was an unbelievable experience," Vidmar told ESPN. "It's difficult to put into words ... just being around the best athletes in the village. I think we were fortunate in that case.

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"The beauty of it is, we weren't expected to go too far. But we had a group of players who were so determined that they wanted to create something special. And we did get to the semifinals and a lot of those players went on to become Socceroos.

"You're talking about that carrot. I think there were at least six or seven players who really cemented themselves as Socceroos."

After being part of Graham Arnold's staff for the Olyroos campaign at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Vidmar has now ascended into the main post with Australia's men's under-23 side, seeking to simultaneously guide them to Paris 2024 and prepare them to, hopefully, become regular members of senior sides in the years ahead.

In preparation for the first competitive step on that journey, September qualifiers for the Under-23 Asian Cup (the Asian Cup simultaneously serves as a continental contest and as qualifying for the Olympics) he and a selection of Australia's best and brightest young talent will take part in the Maurice Revello Tournament this month in the south of France (Australian viewers can watch all tournament matches LIVE on Watch ESPN).

After completing a six-day camp at an Australian Institute of Sport European Training Centre in Varese, Italy, Vidmar and the squad arrived in France late on Friday evening local time -- an Italian public holiday and an accident on the roads extending the length of the journey by several hours, albeit there are far worst experiences than having a bus ride along the French Riviera.

Australia has been drawn into a group with Qatar, Togo and Mexico for the tournament, with at least one further game guaranteed following the conclusion of their group stage tilt.

Vidmar has named a strong side for the tournament, with Socceroos-capped attackers Marco Tilio and Garang Kuol joining, amongst others, breakout A-League Men talents Calem Nieuwenhof, Nectarios Triantis and Noah Botic, as well as internationally attached prospects such as Josh Rawlins, Cameron Peupion, and goalkeeper Nicholas Bilokapic.

Bilokapic, Botic, Peupion, Rawlins, Ryan Teague, Jordan Courtney-Perkins, and train-on player Caleb Watts are all graduates of the under-17 side that represented Australia at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

"When I first came into this role, nearly 12 months ago, [the Maurice Revello Tournament] was probably the first tournament that I thought of that we wanted to get back into," said Vidmar.

"Not having participated in it, the prestige of the tournament and the type of opposition that you play -- because there's each of the Confederations at this tournament -- that's why they've had it. We're up against opponents that we don't have access to that often. So it's a new experience for all the players.

"[The Olyroos is] the next stepping stone for them as they step up. It's pretty clear with the Socceroos in the next couple of years there will probably be a few players who will be coming to the end of their careers.

"We need to have players who have experienced or who have been competitive at this U23 level, who have played 20-odd international games, over 70 A-League games or European games. Because then that puts him right in the picture for Arnie to select them in the next two years and probably the second half of World Cup qualifiers."

Though stepping away from the Olyroos post to focus on the Socceroos after previously juggling the two roles, Arnold has made developing the pathway between Australia's U23 and senior international side one of the key pillars during the recent years of his tenure -- the now 59-year-old is himself an Olympian, part of the squad that went to the Seoul Olympics before it football was reclassified as an U23 competition.

Of the squad that represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, eight (one of which was overage player Mitch Duke) were also a part of Arnold's squad at the 2022 World Cup and other such as Connor Metcalfe, Denis Genreau, and Nicholas D'Agostino have since secured moves to European clubs.

With Vidmar having worked in the senior setup, the expectation is that this new generation of potential Olympians will be able to gain an understanding of the responsibilities and expectations that come with a senior callup, while also developing their games.

"Arnie is big on the discipline side of your role, with the ball and especially without the ball -- because you do come up against fantastic teams and fantastic individuals," explained Vidmar.

"I would like this group of players, and I'm starting to see is that they've got their own ability, their own quality, their own style of how they play and we're trying to grow that allow them to have that freedom and to put that on top of the structures defensively -- especially in transition.

"A lot of these players play different styles of football, different styles of systems. And it just makes it fantastic to kind of work with them. And mould them into those types of players [that can represent the Socceroos]."