Thursday, November 13, 2014

Australia Greatest All-time team

Australia 2006

This is my all-time team for AustraliaIf there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  

Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.

Oceania All-Time Team
Australia qualified for the WC Finals in 1974, but waited 22 years for their second WC Finals.  In 1997, they took a 2 goal lead against Iran before Iran came back and eliminated them in a heart-breaking World Cup qualifying continental playoff match. Then, in the 2000's, Australian players such as Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Tim Cahill started to star in England.  Socceroos suddenly found itself with a Golden Generation.  In 2006, they finally qualified for the first World Cup Finals since 1974.  They were eliminated by a questionable penalty call in the round of 16 against the eventual champion Italy.

If there were an All-Time World Cup, this would be the 23 players I would bring to the tournament.  The team is not an All-Star team. I tried to be as realistic as possible.   A few of the players are selected for tactical reasons at the expense of more famous players.

GK: Mark Schwarzer
He started over 500 games in the Premiership.  He was known for his seasons at Middlesbrough and Fulham.  He also played in Germany.  With 109 caps, he is the cap record holder in Australia. He played in two World Cup Finals: 2006 and 2010.

GK: Mark Bosnich
Bosnich was voted as Oceania Goalkeeper of the Century.  He was known for his career with Aston Villa.   He earned himself a transfer back to Manchester United in 1999, but his career started to fall apart over there.  He also played for Chelsea. He also played in Australia for Sydney United, Central Coast Mariners and Sydney Olympic. For the national team, he only earned 17 caps due to club's commitment.
Mark Bosnich

GK Zeljko Kalac
Kalac made his name with Sydney United.  He moved to Europe in 1995.  He played in England, holland and Italy.  He was the backup keeper for AC Milan as they won the Champions' League in 2006-2007. He spent most of his career between Bosnich and Schwarzer, but still earned 54 caps for Socceroos.  He played against Croata at the WC Finals in 2006.

RB:  Bob Bignall
Bigness was the captain of Australia at the 1956 Olympics playing at home.  He started his career in 1939 and played over 400 matches in NSW for Corrimal Rangers, Woonona, North Shore and South Coast United as a defender before going onto represent both NSW and national sides as captain in the 1950s

CB/RB: Lucas Neill
He earned 96 caps during Australia's Golden Generation.   He played 15 seasons in England.  He represented Australia at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, and also the 2011 AFC Asian Cup in Qatar.He was probably remembered for the controversial penalty he gave away vs Italy at the round of 16 duirng the Germany 2006.

Lucas Neill

CB:  Joe Marston
He was the first Australian to play in the English FA Cup Final, when Preston North End reached the Final in 1954.  He played over 180 games in England and was one of the first Australians to play aboard.  

CB: Craig Moore
He played over 250 games for Rangers in Scotland. After rangers, he played with Borussia Mönchengladbach, Newcastle United and his hometown club Queensland Roar (later renamed Brisbane the Australian A-League, as their captain and Marquee player.  In 2012, he was voted into the Australia's All-time Best XI.  He went to Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010.

CB: Peter Wilson 
"Big Willy" was the captain of the 1974 WC team.  He was a sweeper. He was capped 65 times and he was the captain 61 times.  Born in Felling, England in 1947, Wilson migrated to Australia in 1969 to join South Coast United. He also played for Sydney club Western Suburbs, Marconi and APIA Leichhardt.
Peter Wilson

CB: Milan Ivanovic
He started his career with Red Star Belgrade.  After stints with OFK Belgrade and Radnički Niš, he emigrated to Australia and on arrival in 1989 he joined Adelaide City.  He was elected into Australia's team of the century.  He was voted into the Hall of Champions, the highest honor in the Football Hall of Flame in Australia. He earned 59 caps.

LB: Tony Vidmar 
Vidmar is currently Socceroos's third highest capped player with 76 caps.  He withdrew from the WC selection right before Germany 2006 due to health problems. He missed the 2006 World Cup Finals because of a medical condition. He spent 5 seasons with Rangers in Scotland. He also played in Holland and Wales.
Tony Vidmar

LB:  Alan Davidson
Davidson was voted into the Hall of Champions, the highest honor in the Football Hall of Flame in Australia. He was voted as Australia's greatest leftback in 2012.  He played for a numerous clubs all over the world.  He had a short stint with Nottingham Forest in 1984-1985.

DM/RB: Johnny Warren
Warren was probablyone of Australia's greatest players.  The best player award for the A-League was named after him.  He was named as Australia's all-time best XI in 2012.  He spent most of his career with St. George on the 1960's. He was capped 42 times and went to the WC Finals in 1974.

RM/RB: Brett Emerton
He is the third most capped player for Socceroos.  He spent his career notably with Sydney Olympic, Sydney FC, Feyenoord and Blackbrun Rovers.  He spent 9 seasons with Blackburn Rovers.  He was Oceania Player of the Year in 2002.

CM: Ned Zelic
He had a successful career playing in Bundesliga.  He started his career in Germany with Borussia Dortmund.  Then, he moved to Queens Park Rangers as the club's record signing.  He failed to settle there. He later played in France and then, Germany again.
Ned Zelic
CM: Robbie Slater
He belonged to the generation right before the Golden Generation.  He played in the two important World Cup continental playoffs, in 1993 and 1998. He was voted into the Hall of Champions, the highest honor in the Football Hall of Flame in Australia.  He played in England and France.

CM: Mark Bresciano
He spent 12 seasons playing in Italy with Empoli, Parma, Palermo and Lazio.  When he joined Parma, he became the most expensive Australian player ever.  He also played in three World Cup Finals for Australia. 

LM:  Jimmy Rooney
Born in Scotland, he had a brief career in England with Lochee United, Peterborough United and Montrose F.C. before moving to Australia in the late 1960's. He played in the WC Finals of 1974.  He was capped 100 times.  

AM: Tim Cahill 
Cahill is the all-time leading scorer for Socceroos and was considered one of greatest Australian players ever.  He played for Millwall, Everton, the New York Red Bulls, Shanghai Shenhua, and Hangzhou Greentown. At Everton, he was one of their star players for 8 seasons.  He represented Samoa at youth level.  Later, he switched to Australia in 2004.  He went to three WC Finals.  He led Australia in winning the Asian Cup in 2015.
Tim Cahill

RW: Attila Abonyi
Born in Hungary, he moved to Australia as a young boy. He was a member of the 1974 World Cup team.  He was also  the third leading scorer for Australia.  He was voted into the Hall of Champions, the highest honor in the Football Hall of Flame in Australia.
In 2012, he was voted the greatest ever Australian player.  At Leeds United, he won the PFA Young Player of the year in 1999-2000.  With Mark Viduka, the team reached the semifinal of the Champions' League in 2000-2001.  At liverpool, he won the Champions League in 2005, where he started the final match.  He became the first Australian-born player to win a Champions' League medal.
Harry Kewell
He was a star for Socceroos in the 1980's and 1990's.  He found successes playing for Brugge in Belgium, where he won the Golden Booth and the best Foreign Player Award in 1989-1990 season.  He moved to Bari where he became the first Australian to play in the Serie A.  However, his successes in Europe was limited to his seasons in Belgium.

ST:  Ray Baartz
He joined Manchester United at the age of 17.  He retrned home after two seasons. In 1966 he returned to Australia and transferred to Sydney Hakoah for a then Australian record of ₤5600. He played 236 club matches scoring 211 goals.  He went to the WC Finals in 1974. He was named in the Greatest Australian team in 2012.  

ST: Mark Viduka
Viduka started with Croatian-based club Melbourne Knights FC.  He went to Europe in 1995, where he was probably the most famous Australian playing in Europe.  He played in Croatia, Scotland and England.  In Scotland, he was the top scoring in the Scottish league and won the SPFA Player of the Season with Celtics. And then, he joined Leeds United, where the club reached the semifinal of the Champions' League.  He also played for Middlesbrough and Newcastle United.
Viduka and Kewell

Honorable Mention
Jimmy Rooney, Peter Wilson, John Kosmina, Ron Lord, Charlie Yankos, Paul Okon, Alex Tobin, Aurelio Vidmar, Josip Skoko, Jason Culina, Joshua Kennedy, Vince Grella, Paul Wade, David Mitchell, Damian Mori, Stan Lazaridis, Reg Date, Alf Quill, Mehmet Duraković, Manfred Schaefer, Johnny Watkiss, Branko Buljevic, Adrian Alston, Charlie Yankos, Harry Williams.

Squad Explanation 
-- The 2000's Golden Generation dominated this team. Nine players from the 2006 World Cup teams are on this all-time team: Schwarzer, Cahill, Viduka, Neill, Kalac, Moore, Emerton, Bresciano and Kewell. Mark Bosnich and Tony Vidmar also belonged to this generation, but missing out on the 2006 team. Stan Lazaridis, Paul Okon, Josip Skoko, Jason Culina and Joshua Kennedy also belong to this generation and made honourable mention.  Some of them also went to the WC Finals of 2010 and 2014, and won 2015 Asian Cup. Christian Vieiri of Italy also belonged to this Golden Generation of Australians.  Tim Cahill probably will be going to the WC Finals in 2018.  No other generation from any of my all-time team dominated so much.
-- From the 1974 World Cup team, this team included Attila Abonyi, Ray Baartz, Peter Wilson, Johnny Warren and Jimmy Rooney.
-- Craig Johnston never played for Australia. He compared playing for Australia was liked "surfing" in England.  He was actually born in South Africa to Australian parents.  He grew up in Australia, where he learned to play. He was uncapped at the senior level.
-- Christian Vieiri was also eligible for Australia.  He grew up there, but of course, he is ineligible for this all-time team. His brother was capped by Australia.  Tony Dorigo was also born in Australia, but played for England.
-- Reg Date and Alf Quill are early pioneers of the game. They were almost forgotten.
-- Jimmy Rooney and Peter Wilson never played the highest level in England while I dropped Paul Okon and Aurelio Vidmar, who did well in Europe at the highest level.  However, both Rooney and Wilson were important figures in Australia's 1974 WC campaign and should be honored. 
-- My biggest controversial selection was probably Zeljko Kalac.  Ron Lord was seriously considered to one of the three keepers, but Kalac had better European experience at club level.

Starting lineup
Formation: 4-2-1-3
Schwarzer got the start because he had a much longer and steadier career than Bosnich.  Emerton started because he was more offensive than the other candidates.

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