Former Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, Celtic, Blackburn and Leeds United stars feature in the Socceroos all-time squad.
The first official football, or ‘soccer’, match played in Australia was in 1880. Despite being introduced to the game relatively early, Australians didn’t take to the sport in quite the same way most countries did, with the likes of Aussie rules football, cricket, rugby union and rugby league all enjoying greater popularity over the last century right up to the present day.
Australia lives and breathes sport though, and the A-League does continue to steadily improve. The Socceroos first qualified for the World Cup in 1974, but then went more than three decades failing to qualify. In 2006, the country qualified for the second time, even managing to get out of their group before losing to eventual champions Italy.
Australia’s success in 2006 was largely down to the Golden Generation. The finest crop of players the country has ever produced, and it should come as little surprise that they make up the bulk of the Socceroos all-time squad here. Below is Australia’s definite 15 man squad, plus their 8 reserves from which you choose which 3 join the initial 15 to create a final 18 man squad.
Possibly Australia’s strongest position over the years, the country has good options between the sticks. Mark Schwarzer is arguably the pick of the bunch though. The 44-year-old who was still playing in the Premier League up until 2016 is Australia’s most capped player of all-time, with 109 international appearances to his name. Schwarzer played for the likes of Middlesbrough, Fulham, Chelsea and Leicester. He is both of the latter two’s oldest ever player, and also won Premier League titles with both.
Another Mark, another good Australian goalkeeper who spent most of his career in the Premier League. Mark Bosnich is best remembered for his seven years of service to Aston Villa, where he won the League Cup twice, but the Aussie shot stopper also turned out for Manchester United and Chelsea. Named the Oceania Goalkeeper of the Century in 1999, Bosnich’s career was virtually over before the age of 30 when he became a recluse, developed a cocaine addiction and left the professional game, before making a brief return years later.
If Australia have been blessed with the most depth in goal, they have probably been blessed with the least in both full-back position. Luke Wilkshire was a good player in his prime though, turning out for Middlesbrough, Bristol City, FC Twente, Dynamo Moscow and Feyenoord. With 80 caps to his name, Wilkshire is the eighth most capped Australian of all-time.
The first Australian to play in an FA Cup final, whilst most Socceroos were still playing amateur football in the 1950’s, Marston was endearing himself to supporters at Preston North End, who reportedly turned down a lucrative £80,000 offer from Arsenal for the defender. Capable of playing at either right-back or centre-back, Marston played 185 league games for Preston and won 37 caps for Australia.
Lucas Neill wasn’t a world beater but he was a warrior and as reliable as they come for Australia. Born in Sydney, Neill began his career with Millwall as a teenager, going on to play for Blackburn Rovers, West Ham United, Everton, Galatasaray and a handful of other clubs scattered across the globe. Millwall’s Player of the Year in 1997, Neill won a League Cup with Blackburn in 2002 and won 96 caps for Australia over the course of his career, the third most of any player in history.
Belgian Golden Shoe winner Paul Okon was a talented footballer, whose legacy has perhaps been somewhat damaged by the number of moves he made during his career, making him appear a journeyman. Okon played in both defence and midfield, and probably spent his best years in Belgium with Club Brugge, but also played for Lazio, Fiorentina, Middlesbrough, Leeds United and many more.
Stan Lazaridis was often found on the left wing rather than at left-back, but the former Birmingham City man was certainly capable of playing at full-back in this side, so he’s in the squad as a defender. Lazaridis won 60 caps for the Socceroos between 1993 and 2006, turning out for Floreat Athena, West Adelaide, West Ham United, Birmingham City and Perth Glory at club level. The 44-year-old was part of the Australia squad which finished as runners-up in the 1997 Confederations Cup.
Melbourne-born midfield maestro Mark Bresciano is unusual among players in this squad in that he never plied his trade in England. The 37-year-old played for Bulleen Lions and Carlton in Australia, and when he headed to Europe to prove himself against better opposition, it was Italy he would call home. The versatile goal scoring midfielder donned the shirts of Empoli, Parma, Palermo and Lazio over the course of an eleven year stay in Serie A. He won 84 caps.
One of only a few non-modern day players in this Australia squad, Johnny Warren is perhaps better known for his off-field promotion of the game in Australia prior to his death in 2004 than his performances on it. A central midfield player known for his determined play, Warren won 42 caps for the Socceroos and made the countries Team of the Century in 2000.
Quite possibly the best Australian footballer of all-time, injuries prevented Harry Kewell from reaching the stratospheric levels he was capable of. Despite those injury troubles, Kewell still had a distinguished career, and was one of the most feared left wingers in Europe at one time. The 38-year-old who recently took the reigns as Crawley Town manager played his best football for Leeds United, Liverpool and Galatasaray. Kewell won 56 caps for Australia.
Kewell may have been the more gifted, but it is Tim Cahill who has made arguably the greatest on-field contribution to the Socceroos over the years. Aged 37 and still going strong, Cahill is the countries all-time leading goal scorer with 48 goals from 97 caps. More importantly, the powerful midfielder/forward has scored in three separate World Cup’s for the Socceroos. Cahill began his career in England with Millwall, where he reached an FA Cup final, before moving to Everton where he would become a fan favourite.
Right sided midfielder Brett Emerton, who also deputised at right-back occasionally, began his career with Sydney Olympic, before going on to have success in Holland with Feyenoord and in England with Blackburn Rovers, returning to Sydney (Sydney FC, not Olympic) to end his career in 2011. Emerton won 95 caps for Australia, scoring 20 goals, and was named the Oceania Footballer of the Year in 2002.
From midfield to attack, a man many would consider to be Australia’s finest footballing export, Mark Viduka was simply class when he turned it on. Although Viduka was of a large stature, his game was based on technique rather than power. He made his name in Croatia with Zagreb, before heading to Celtic and then onto Premier League trio Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Newcastle. A career total of 258 goals from 507 games shows just what a good striker Viduka was, but just 11 goals in 43 caps for the Socceroos is a poor return for a player of his calibre.
Viduka is a nailed on certainty, but there could be a fair bit of debate about which forwards join him in Australia’s all-time squad. The first forward to join Viduka is John Aloisi. Unlike many Aussies, Aloisi left Australia and proved himself to be a decent player overseas. He scored 26 goals in 60 games for Portsmouth and 29 goals in 121 games for Osasuna. For the national team, he bagged an impressive 27 goals from 55 caps, the fourth most goals in Socceroos history.
The final player to be named in Australia’s initial 15 is Frank Farina. Like Aloisi, Farina proved himself to be a solid striker in Europe, but like Viduka, he never really translated that into top form for the national team. Farina scored 43 goals in 75 games for Club Brugge in the most impressive spell of his career, later playing in Serie A, the First Division and Ligue 1.
That’s it for Australia’s definite 15, now it’s over to you to pick which three reserve players get the nod and join the likes of Kewell and Viduka in Australia’s final 18. The eight reserve players to choose from are as follows:
1. Zeljko Kalac – Former Sydney, Roda, Perugia and AC Milan goalkeeper – 54 caps
2. Craig Moore – Former Rangers and Newcastle United defender – 52 caps
3. Peter Wilson – Former Western Suburbs and APIA Leichhardt Tigers defender – 65 caps
4. Alan Davidson – Former South Melbourne, Melbourne Croatia & Pahang utility player – 79 caps
5. Ned Zelic – Former Borussia Dortmund and 1860 Munchen midfielder/defender – 34 caps
6. Mile Jedinak – Former Crystal Palace and current Aston Villa midfielder – 71 caps*
7. Brett Holman – Former Excelsior, AZ and Aston Villa attacking midfielder – 63 caps
8. Reg Date – Former Wallsend FC striker – 5 caps