Football may not be the primary sport in Australia, but Socceroos produced some of the best players in the country’s relatively young history. The sport’s versatility in Australia also makes it a large ecosystem of young talent who are enthusiastic and determined to reach the peak of their chosen careers. Almost all of these men have competed in the world championships and have ridden the wave’s crest following the Socceroos’ AFC win, raising the profile of football in Australia. However, due to fierce competition and underestimated performance of national sports grounds, some players could not qualify.
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Read on to discover the most famous Australian soccer players and why they are among the finest their nation has ever produced.
If there is a person in the history of Australian football who has earned his place on this team, not only by exploits on the field but also off, it is Johnny Warren. Johnny Warren became the “Captain Socceroo” as part of the national side that qualified for the World Cup in 1974. In 1974, Warren and his teammates first represented Australia at the World Cup, having done the impossible in those days. The country was distracted from rugby and cricket and was surprised to find that the football team was also worth something.
Warren’s ascetic enthusiasm, ideas, and emotions have led to the fact that football has ceased being considered “some kind of game for expatriates in Australia.” The midfielder was an inspirational leader and an impressive player, driving his team to earn 62 caps for the Socceroos. Besides, he was inducted into the Australian Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. Although Socceroos failed to score a goal in Germany, reducing only one game to a goalless draw, the basis for the Golden Generation to grow by 30 years has been laid.
At 14, Tim Cahill received an offer to play for the Samoa national team in the Oceania Championship for players under 20. As the federation paid for all flights for a trip to his relatives who lived on the Samoa island, Tim decided to spend the holidays with his family, playing football in parallel. If he had known that these two matches would become a start of Cahill’s path to the camp of Socceroos, he would have wondered several times whether it was worth spending his holidays this way.
Cahill had no desire to play for the national team of Samoa, so Tim received the opportunity to play for another country only in 2004 when he was already 24 years old. Cahill chose Socceroos, where the tenacious midfielder earned his place in the hearts of fans both for his performance and for his handy knack for scoring crucial goals at crucial moments. Besides, he has scored in three world championships and three Asian Cups, and he won two continental tournaments, being the long-time record holder for the number of goals for the national team.
When the Australian national team did not succeed, when it was necessary to come up with something extraordinary, often all hopes were pinned on Bresciano, who became a midfield star of Australia’s ‘Golden Generation. Everyone noted Mark’s technical talent, passing culture, and pitch vision from the early days of his career. In the homeland of his ancestors in Italy, Bresciano enjoyed great respect and love from fans, having spent more than a dozen seasons in Serie A.
Bresciano has a lot to do with two of the most critical Socceroos’ history goals. In 2005, he scored in Sydney to Uruguay, equalizing for the legendary penalty shootout. And in 2013, at the end of the match with Iraq, Bresciano put the ball on Kennedy’s head, and he scored a goal that brought the Australian national team to the third world championship in a row.
Being the captain of the 2006 World Cup team, the temperamental Viduka made his name as a goal-scorer, offering impressive finishing and devastating forward play for several sides in four different countries. If you ask an ordinary fan to name one of the Australian footballers, half will remember Mark Viduka’s performances for Leeds United and Middlesbrough in the early 2000s. In the foreseeable future, hardly anyone will swing at his record for goals in the Champions League for the Australians (4 goals in the 2000-01 draw), so he deserved a place in the best team by right. However, how bright was Mark’s career at the club level, so indistinct it turned out in Socceroos. The temper may have exploded at times, and the irritability may have occasionally verged on the embarrassing, but Viduka’s effectiveness in the final third is outstanding.
However, there was a myriad of injuries and disappointments in Harry Kewell’s career; the Melbourne Heart man has been an incredible talent and arguably the finest player Australia has ever produced. As a precocious 17-year-old, he burst onto the scene with Leeds United and Australia, making both his Premier League and international debut within the space of a month, becoming one of the EPL’s stand-out youngsters who won the PFA Young Player of the Year award in 2000.
The career of the national team player, like that of the Socceroos, was controversial. He scored an important goal for Iran at a raging stadium in Tehran in 1997, but the team sensationally lost a ticket to the World Cup in a home match. At the 2006 World Cup, Harry scored a goal for the Croatians, which brought Socceroos to the playoffs, but they could not play with the Italians due to another untreated injury. “Golden Boy” played at the age of 33 when his career was ending.
Craig Moore holds an important place in Australian football, showing his outstanding leadership and impeccable professionalism at every under age level. He has become almost legendary for the Rangers, having won 12 titles with the team in 10 years. In 2006, in the decisive match with Croatia with a 0-1, the referee awarded a penalty, which Craig Moore had to execute in the absence of John Aloisi. The leader did not disappoint, the score was leveled, and Australia advanced to the World Cup playoffs.