Bruno Fornaroli's great Australian dream
When the story broke online about Bruno Fornaroli, one of the A-League Men’s greatest ever goal-scorers, potentially being named in the next Socceroos squad – it seemed to come out of nowhere.
While the announcement itself seemed to come out of nowhere, with no hint at any stage of the campaign that Fornaroli would be called it, this story has been six years in the making.
It’s a story that embodies everything about Australia: reflecting both the history and modern day. It’s a story that started in 2016 and included talks with lawyers, a man desperate to succeed in his new country, and the help of a national team hero that helped make it happen.
Australia has many tales of new arrivals, desperate for acceptance and to make a difference to their new community – going above and beyond and becoming legends in their fields. Since the birth of our national the back pages have been filled with foreign-born citizens who have brought glory to Australia while wearing the green and gold.
Names like Tatiana Grigorieva, David Pocock, and Kostya Tszyu are known throughout the country, while football – especially in its early history – has a plethora of naturalised players who pulled on the Socceroos jersey: Matt Smith being the most recent.
Born in Uruguay, Fornaroli spent the majority of his early football years in South America. Never able to secure a foothold at any club, he was identified by the City Football Group scouting network who saw a footballer who had the ability to score consistent goals if he was in the right environment: a perfect player to bring to newly acquired Melbourne City in 2015.
The rest, as they say, is A-League history with the ‘Prickly Pear’ quickly establishing himself as one of the finest marksmen to grace the competition having scored an incredible 81 goals in 135 starts.
It’s the type of goal-scoring acumen that the national team has been crying out for since the days of Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell and back in 2016 there was a hint of what was to come in the form on an innocuous Twitter post.
“I remember that day: I'm a good friend with Aaron Mooy and I asked him for his shirt because I wanted it and for me it is a beautiful shirt,” Fornaroli told socceroos.com.au
A few fans and media outlets acknowledged the photo but for the most part it went unnoticed. What most people who saw it didn’t realise is behind the photo was a burning desire Fornaroli had for the nation of Australia even back then.
Having been accepted by his teammates, his club’s fans, and his community: Fornaroli was surrounded by love in his new nation and he quickly grew to return that love in equal measure. Within one year of moving to Australia he had his dream set on representing the nation.
Unfortunately, FIFA had recently changed its eligibility rules so El Tuna was told to forget about his dream.
“At that point of posting the photo I was talking with my lawyer and was told it was not possible because the FIFA rules said I’m not allowed to play.”
For someone who had set himself the dream of pulling on the green and gold, it was a setback, but not one that diminished his love of Australia – nor did it limit the amount Fornaroli embraced Australian culture.
He settled his family permanently in our country, his own son was born in our nation, and he would be glued to the television set and sending messages of support every time our national team played.
“One word will say everything: Australia is home. Seven years ago when we just came with my wife and my little daughter, straight away people helped us to feel comfortable here. Australia even bore my son: he's a real Aussie.
“We are very grateful with this country: we love it.”
On Thursday 17 March 2022 Fornaroli finally achieved his dream: to be called-up to the Socceroos. There have been many stages and steps to get to this point: arriving in Australia, settling in Australia, gaining Permanent Residency (through the assistance of Tim Cahill), gaining citizenship and then, finally, FIFA changing the eligibility rules.
And while the call-up came many years after the 34-year-old striker first hoped, Fornaroli is grateful he will finally get to achieve his Australian dream.
“I have many reasons to fight for this country. This is so important for me that I will do whatever I have to do inside or outside the field to help Australia qualify for the World Cup.
“When we started to talk and started to speed up the process on my citizenship, I tried not to get too excited until the moment the coach called me and told me I would be in the squad. At that point it became a reality and now I think I live in a dream.
“All my career I have waited for this moment. This is the biggest moment in my career. I am so happy. Now is the time to enjoy the moment and be ready to give my best.”
Bruno Fornaroli is one of Australia’s newest citizens. He has trod a path that many past Australians have done in the past, and many more will do in the future. He has come to Australia to make the most of his life and to give the best of himself to and for this country.
On Thursday 24 March, Bruno Fornaroli will walk out onto Stadium Australia wearing the the green and gold in front of thousands of fellow citizens, representing his nation.
His story embodies everything to do with Australia. We have a history of people coming to our country to make their dreams come true, and Bruno is the latest Australian to achieve that.
Matchday 9: Australia v Japan
Date: Thursday, 24 March 2022
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia
Kick-off: 8.10pm AEDT
Tickets: Tickets available from Ticketek
Broadcast: Live and free in Australia on Network 10 and simulcast on 10 Play