53 days to go: Ernie Campbell'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 Ernie Campbell, a dangerous attacker who scored a couple of key qualifying goals to help secure a spot at the 1974 FIFA World Cup.

READ: FIFA World Cup: Countdown for the Caltex Socceroos

Cap number: 225

World Cups played at: 1974

Position: Forward

Age at World Cup: 24 (now 68)

Clubs played for:

Canterbury-Marrickville, Chelsea, APIA Leichhardt, Marconi, Sydney City (Hakoah), St George

Best World Cup moment:

Campbell notched a late equaliser in the first match of Australia's qualifying campaign - a 1-1 draw with New Zealand - and also grabbed the opener in a 2-1 win over Indonesia.

Capable of playing up front or as a winger, he was rewarded with a place in Rale Rasic's squad for the tournament itself and replaced the injured Johnny Warren in the starting XI for the second group game against eventual champions West Germany.

He went head-to-head with the likes of Franz Beckenbauer and Paul Breitner in a world-class defence, before Rale Rasic replaced him with Attila Abonyi at half-time.

Career highlight:

Campbell's career was destined to hit the heights from the moment he was signed by Chelsea as a teenager in 1965.

Along with Colin Miner, he was spotted playing in a youth match by then Blues boss Tommy Docherty and spent 12 months as an apprentice with the London club.

He immediately helped APIA Leichhardt to the New South Wales state title upon his return to Australia, played for Marconi in the inaugural National Soccer League season in 1977, and scored in the competition's first Grand Final the following year.

Yet it was two state level matches, separated by 12 years, that summed up his enduring knack for big moments.

Playing for APIA in 1969 decider, a 20-year-old Campbell stunned St George by netting a hat-trick in the final 12 minutes to give his team an incredible 3-2 victory.

But on the same stage in 1981, in front of over 15,000 fans, the now-veteran redeemed himself in the eyes of St George supporters as he struck an 89th-minute winner for his new club to see off Sydney Croatia.

Post-playing career:

Campell, who later worked as a sales representative, has continued to play football well into his 60s, including at the Johnny Warren Memorial Cup.

He was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2006.

Did you know?

During his spell at Chelsea, the Sydney product played for the club's youth side in the South-East Counties League under the watchful eye of former England international Frank Blunstone.

*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.