52 days to go: Branko Buljevic's FIFA World Cup story

As part of the run-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, we are profiling every Australian player that has been to football's showpiece event.

The latest member in our countdown is Melbourne-based attacker Branko Buljevic, who was heavily involved in the 1974 campaign.

READ: FIFA World Cup: Countdown for the Caltex Socceroos

Cap number: 227

World Cups played at: 1974

Position: Forward

Age at World Cup: 26 (now 70)

Clubs played for:

DOSK Drnis, OFK Beograd, Footscray JUST, Heidelberg United, South Melbourne

Best World Cup moment:

Buljevic was a key man in 1974, starting all three of Australia's group matches including 90 minutes in the nation's FIFA World Cup debut against East Germany.

One of three Victorian-based players included in the final squad, he had played a vital hand in securing qualification.

Australia's dreams were fading fast in the final round as they trailed 2-0 to South Korea in Seoul, the first leg in Sydney having finished scoreless.

But Buljevic scored to spark a fightback that forced a 2-2 draw and a decisive third meeting in Hong Kong, where Jimmy Mackay's famous rocket confirmed Australia's passage.

Branko Buljevic and Berti Vogts
Buljevic battling West Germany great Berti Vogts, a player he would "never forget".

Career highlight:

After moving to Australia in 1968, Buljevic won three Victorian Soccer League titles in a nine-year spell with Footscray JUST.

He joined Heidelberg United (then Fitzroy United) for the inaugural National Soccer League season and notched nine goals as his club finished an impressive third.

Post-playing career:

Buljevic was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2002.

He is now retired and living in Melbourne.

Did you know?

Buljevic started his career at OFK Beograd alongside future Footscray JUST and Australia team-mate Doug Utjesenovic.

*Photographs from the Les Shorrock, Laurie Schwab and Anton Cermak collections are used with permission from Deakin University Library, Eileen Shorrock and Mrs Jana Cermak.