If St. Pauli are to climb out of Bundesliga 2 and Australia are going to go far at the Asian Cup, then energetic midfielder and club captain Jackson Irvine will have a lot to do with it. Bundelsiga.com profiles for the former Celtic man..
*Stats correct as of 29 December 2023
Club: St. Pauli
Country: Australia (59 caps/ nine goals)
Born and brought up in Melbourne, football was always the main sport for a youngster with a father from Scotland and a grandfather from the Netherlands. Irvine played for local clubs in the state of Victoria before joining Melbourne Victory as a 15-year-old. His coach there had a link with Celtic, and told the teenager he could arrange a trial for him if he was ever back visiting family in Europe. The current Pauli No. 7 grabbed the opportunity in December 2009, and impressed enough to join Celtic's academy a few months later. Irvine played at centre-back and in central midfield at youth level in Scotland, wearing the captain's armband for several successful sides. He eventually made his senior debut in September 2012 as a half-time substitute in a 2-2 draw with Hibs, before playing for Kilmarnock and Ross County on loan.
Irvine stayed in Scotland by signing for Ross County on a permanent deal in summer 2015, before moving south to Burton Albion in 2016. After helping his new club avoid relegation from the English second tier with 10 goals in 43 appearances in 2016/17, the 6'2" midfielder was named Burton's Player of the Year. A further two-year stint in England followed - he scored 10 goals in 112 games after joining Hull City - before Irvine left for Scottish side Hibernian in January 2021.
In July 2021 Irvine moved to St. Pauli, and he scored one goal in 28 league appearances in the 2021/22 campaign. He helped Die Kiezkicker go close to promotion with a fifth-placed finish and - in a sign of his stature at the club - Irvine was made co-captain along with Leart Paqarada ahead of the 2022/23 season. His second year in northern Germany started in style too. He got the first goal in a 3-2 win over Nuremberg on the opening day and then an injury-time equaliser at Hannover on Matchday 2.
Watch: Jackson Irvine's Matchday 1 goal against Nuremberg
Pauli struggled thereafter and were just above the relegation zone at the midway point, but once US-born coach Fabian Hürzeler was appointed - and Irvine returned from the World Cup - they began to thrive. They finished fifth again come the end of the campaign, with their hard-working midfield man chipping in with eight goals overall as well as three assists.
Irvine was later named the club captain once Leart Paqarada left for Cologne in July 2023. He responded to his new role in typical fashion, with his three goals and four assists in the first half of the 2023/24 season helping Pauli head into the winter break second in the table and still unbeaten.
At international level, Irvine represented Scotland U19s before switching to Australia from U20 on. He featured as a substitute in Australia's three group matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and scored four goals in 17 starts in qualifying for the 2022 edition. In June 2022 he grabbed a vital opening goal against the United Arab Emirates in the World Cup play-off semi-final, and then played all 120 minutes in the decider against Peru a few days later.
The Socceroos won the latter match on penalties after extra-time, taking Irvine to his second World Cup finals. He started in all three group games against France, Tunisia and Denmark and also played the full 90-plus minutes in the 2-1 round of 16 loss against eventual champions Argentina.
Plays a bit like: Gini Wijnaldum
On arrival, Irvine said the values of St. Pauli as a club as well as the team's style of play were the "perfect fit". And it seems his laid-back style off the pitch and determined attitude on it have endeared himself to supporters. Irvine has spoken before about loving city life in Hamburg and mingling with fans on the short walk from his home to and from games. He doesn't own a car, but is happy to to make a 25-minute journey to training via bus and train.
Once the whistle sounds on a matchday, however, the Australian is a hard worker and a hard tackler. Signed to slot in on the right side of a four-man midfield diamond, he plays with a high-energy style that sees him contribute in both penalty areas. At international level with Australia, however, he plays a more central, slightly deeper role in midfield.
Although not as technically gifted as Paris Saint-Germain and Netherlands midfielder Wijnaldum, Irvine does perform a similar role for his team: a right-footed midfielder, a true team player, and someone that can ghost into the box to get his side some crucial goals.
Did you know?
Perhaps Irvine was always destined to be footballer, judging by a photo he posted on social media after he booked his ticket to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. It shows him as a child in an Australia jersey meeting former Leeds and Liverpool winger Harry Kewell - who was a Socceroos star at the time it was taken.
If football didn't work out, though, Irvine could well have gone into music. He had started playing guitar by the age of four and played in several different types of bands growing up. He cites playing and listening to music as a help to him on the pitch, and playing for a cult club like Pauli probably works well in that regard, too.
Watch: Irvine sprang to Pauli's aid on Matchday 2 of 2022/23
In a piece for Professional Footballers Australia in 2021, the 29-year-old described the buzz he gets walking out to "Hells Bells" by AC/DC at Pauli's Millerntor stadium.
"My two passions are football and music, so to be out there in a St. Pauli jersey, listening to an iconic Aussie pub rock song, is definitely one of the coolest experiences I've had as a footballer," he wrote.
Another thing Irvine has gained notoriety for are his tattoos, which include one of bartender Moe Szyslak from The Simpsons.
What they're saying
"Jackson Irvine is a genuine leader both on and off the pitch, someone who leads from the front when the going gets tough." – Hürzler on the decision to appoint Irvine as club captain
"He's at his prime age for a footballer and is an absolute mentality player who works extremely hard and comes with international experience. He's at home in a variety of midfield positions, so signing him gives us many more options." – St. Pauli director of sport Andreas Bornemann
“He's a player that is not only present between both boxes but also in both boxes - with his physique, his strength in the air and his goal threat. He's got a great instinct when it comes to winning the ball in a tackle. When he can go forward, when he stays in space - that's definitely one of his greatest strengths." – former St. Pauli coach Timo Schultz
Which Bundesliga players were in action at the Asian Cup?
Find out how far the Germany-based players got with their countries at the Asian Cup in Qatar.
Bundesliga 2, Matchday 23 overview
Leaders Pauli kick off the weekend away to second-placed Kiel, before Schalke go to Magdeburg and Steffen Baumgart's HSV face Elversberg...
Matchday 22 highlights!
Leaders St. Pauli bounced back with a win against Braunschweig to set up a Matchday 23 showdown against a second-placed Holstein Kiel side who hammered Paderborn.